The Capologist is the MVP in the NFL in 09

Fryingpan Sports

The Capologist is the MVP in the NFL in 09


By Bill Smith

The NFL owners have a major salary cap issue this year. The issue is that there is an uncapped year in 2010. The guy that will receive the owners MVP is the capologist.

If a team goes over their cap at any time during the season, they will be fined and can lose draft choices as well. Normally that is not a problem because a lot of bonus money can be moved to the next cap year. Because the league opted out of the master contract with the players, this is ANYTHING but a normal year. Here are just a few of the critical issues with which the capologist will have to deal:

Signing bonus:

In previous years, bonuses could be spread over the length of the contract. That meant that a player could be given 10 million in cash at signing and that could be spread over 5 or 6 years to reduce the hit in a single year. Not in 09. Any signing, roster, workout, or other bonuses paid to a player ALL have to be absorbed under the 09 cap.

Rookie signings:

This year the rookies will find that front cash will be a lot harder to come by than in previous years. A typical 10th choice in the first round would expect 10 million in cash as a signing bonus for a 5 year deal. The team would then spread the cash over the 5 years of the deal at 2 mill per year. This year the team will have to absorb all the signing bonus under the 09 cap because there is no cap in 2010. There may be holdouts of top choices because of the inability of teams to be able to pay as much cash up front as the same choice in last years draft got.

This also means that there is NO chance that any of teams with top draft choices in the first round will be able to trade down. No team wants the Lions’ top choice because they can’t afford the cap hit it would take to sign the player.

Performance Bonus:

Normally the team could wait until the end of the season to figure out both the bonuses earned and create the cap space necessary to pay them. In 09, the teams will have to have the cap space available the day that the bonus is earned. The capologist is going to have to figure out how much is likely to be earned by players on the team and open space for that. In addition, he needs to have emergency cap room for unexpected bonus that are earned as well.


In previous years, a team could cut a player like Terrell Owens (9 million in uncapped bonus money) and it could have a couple of years over which to spread the cap hit for unrecognized signing bonus.

Any cap hit for a player cut after the end of the 08 season has to be taken in the 09 season. That is huge problem because the way that most teams create cap room is to cut players. In previous years, a team could spread the cap hit of a player cut after June 1 over the current year and the following year. Not in 09.

Player cuts will be very limited because the cap implications. All unrecognized money paid to a cut player in any form of bonus must be covered under the 09 cap.

Most teams capologists have been preparing for this year ever since the league voted to opt out of the master agreement. Some teams are in very good cap shape and will be able to take advantage of other teams’ cap problems. But regardless of how much planning a team has done, cap space will be guarded like it is the most expensive commodity in the world by weight. One of the most expensive commodity by weight is the cost of state auto license stickers. In Ohio it costs $40 for less than .001 oz.

IF however, the league and the union come to agreement before the season 09 ends, there will be a lot of cuts. That is not likely to happen. My bet right now is that we will not see the NFL take the field in 2010.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: salary cap,NFL,NFL draft,free agent,cuts,Owens,2009,uncapped year,strike,bonus,rookie Lions,1st choice
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2 thoughts on “The Capologist is the MVP in the NFL in 09”

  1. Great breakdown of the financial situation of the NFL. I tend to ignore all the ins and outs of the salary caps and just watch the game. But you have a very good hold on the topic.

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  2. You are right and it is unfortunate, but I have a feeling that this will get settled in the 11th hour like it was last time. Last time, the economy was good. This time, the NFL will look even worse if they can’t settle this mess and keep the fans happy.

    Also, this will be Goodell’s first test. Yes, we know he’s a sheriff and can suspended players when necessary, but what about the labor talks? How competent is he with that?

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