Early in the offseason, it was reported that should Nate Allen and Curtis Lofton be on the Raiders roster as of February 11 (three days after the Supeer Bowl), guarantees would kick in on their contracts and therefore the Raiders would have some perhaps difficult decisions to make.
Here is what NFL contract expert Joel Corry said at that time:
Third day of waiver period
Raiders: $3.5 million of linebacker Curtis Lofton's $5.35 million 2016 base salary is fully guaranteed. The $3.5 million was guaranteed for injury at signing ... linebacker Nate Allen's $4.9 million 2016 base salary is fully guaranteed. Allen's base salary was guaranteed for injury at signing.
What ultimately happened was Nate Allen was released (and later re-signed to a one-year contract) and Curtis Lofton was not, which puzzled many who thought if only one of the two were to be released, it seemed Lofton would be the one to go.
This was a bit of a head-scratcher at the time and led me to wonder whether the contract details had been reported correctly. After some investigation today, we have our answer. I sought out NFL contract expert, Joel Corry to find out why.
First of all, it appears Lofton was injured. He didn't show up on the Raiders' week 17 injury report but Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports he was dealing with an arm injury, which means he most likely injured in the season finale. The Raiders released Lofton Friday with a "Failed physical" designation because of it. And as Corry pointed out, Lofton's contract was guaranteed for injury. That would explain why he wasn't released before.
Corry also added a couple of interesting details about Lofton's contract -- it has offsets. He tweeted this detail out.
Curtis Lofton's $3.5M salary guarantee has offsets. Oakland will get a salary cap credit in 2017 based on his next deal, assuming he signs.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) March 11, 2016
So, basically, though the Raiders are saddled with $3.5 million in dead money now (but ultimately a savings of $2 million with his release), they could get some of that back for their 2017 cap should Lofton find a new team for next season.
You didn't really think Reggie McKenzie was simply going to be strapped with $3.5 million in dead money with no possible way out, did you?