When the Raiders first signed offensive lineman, Austin Howard, it seemed like the perfect deal. They get a young, two-year starting right tackle with a reasonable deal that has no ramifications after this season. That seems to be turning out less and less the case.
First of all, he was given a deal that paid him an average of $6 million per season. That is a decent deal for a young starting right tackle. However, the Raiders are saying he will be playing right guard. The cutting of Mike Brisiel further suggests that to be true. Suddenly $6 million per season doesn't look quite as reasonable. It's actually pretty pricey for a guard.
Now, according to the folks at Overthecap.com, the long term effects of his contract may be more than originally suspected.
The deal was originally was said to have a roster bonus which paid out this year. This would allow the team to eat up some of their huge amounts of salary cap money -- as he would carry an $8 million cap hit in 2014 -- while not carrying any dead money in the future should they wish to cut ties with Howard after this season.
Overthecap explains that the language of the contract has what originally looked to be a roster bonus as a signing bonus. And it's possible that making it a signing bonus was a mistake in the contract wording and not what the Raiders intended.
"The Raiders brought in Austin Howard to play either right tackle or guard at $6 million a year. It's a very strong contract for Howard made stronger by what seems to be a clerical error by the Raiders which caused a large first year roster bonus to be treated as a signing bonus. I'd be almost certain the Raiders had no desire to do this as no contract they signed had prorated money beyond 2014 and the bonus language here was designed to avoid this bonus from prorating. Perhaps they can petition for a change but the current management council decision has the bonus prorated."
If this truly is the case, it would mean his $5 million bonus would leave $3.75 million in dead money should the team wish to cut him after this season, $2.5 million after two seasons, and $1.25 million after three.
That's important in part because the Raiders need to spend 95% of the the salary cap this season as well as the next two seasons to meet the salary floor. Dead money doesn't count in that equation.
I originally hailed this deal as being one of the best moves the Raiders made in the off-season. It was their first contract handed out with Howard arriving in Alameda the first night of free agency and the deal getting done quickly. Perhaps it was a bit too quickly.