Recent contract trends seem to be very favorable for NFL quarterbacks. It was announced on Monday that the Cincinnati Bengals had signed Andy Dalton to a six-year contract extension worth $115 million. Jay Cutler signed a seven-year extension back in January with the Chicago Bears worth almost $127 million.
At first glance, it looks like these trends will force the Kansas City Chiefs to shell out ridiculous money and make a lengthy commitment if they want to keep Alex Smith beyond 2014. A closer look at Dalton’s and Cutler’s deals should give the Chiefs’ front office a little bit more ammo in the negotiations.
Cutler’s contract sounds enormous, but after three years it will be nothing but club options. The Bears didn’t commit $127 million over seven years; they committed $54 million over three years. They have the option to keep him or cut him after that. With the NFL salary cap always on the rise, the Bears could be getting Cutler at a solid discount toward the end of the deal. If not, they can just cut him.
Dalton’s deal has even more fluff than Cutler’s. The contract is loaded with incentives, but the Bengals only gave him $17 million guaranteed. The recent trends don’t incline the Chiefs to give Smith $20 million a season for the next five or six seasons; they merely incline the Chiefs to offer him the chance to earn it.
Colin Kaepernick’s recent extension is touted as a six-year deal worth up to $126 million, but the contract has plenty of outs for the San Francisco 49ers if Kaepernick doesn’t perform up to snuff. The team can cut him with limited financial consequences after any season in the extension.
If Chiefs GM John Dorsey can get Smith to sign a deal similar to Cutler’s, Dalton’s or Kaepernick’s, it would be a big win. Smith is underrated, and the risk should be minimal. Recent contract trends call for a lot of fluff, minimal commitment and a chance for the players to prove themselves.