The NFL needs to overhaul three factors in the hiring of Coaches

Updated 1/11/19

There are two three changes that I would make if I had the power to do so in regards to NFL coaching and the hiring practices.

The first change is to move the Pro Bowl back to after the Super Bowl. Have a form of a coaches convention in town, a lot like Scouting Combine. Teams that are looking to hire various positions can meet and interview candidates all in one spot. The game is on Sunday. Monday afternoon at 4pm, the hirings can begin. 

The first second thing that they need to address is to postpone all hiring until a week after the Super Bowl. There is information trickling out, that they might allow teams that need a Head Coach, to hire an assistant that is currently in the playoffs. Put me on either side of that equation and I do not like it. If the Broncos are gearing up for a Playoff game, I don’t want an assistant off interviewing, or taking a job, even if he completes the season. I want soul focus on the job at hand. If the Broncos are looking for a new HC (which they should have been, but after losing to the 85′ Bears, we decided to lose on Black Monday too), but if they are looking for a new HC. I would rather be forced to wait until the playoffs are over, because I don’t want to hire Coordinator Jim or Position Coach Joe, and then have him go and finish up with the Packers, or Panthers or whoever. If you are hired as the Denver Broncos Head Coach, that is your job, that is your focus. I realize that this happens in college quite a bit, and some coaches don’t coach in the Bowl or Semifinal/Championship games, and some do, but on either side of the coin, I want my coach working for my team, and my team alone. Pretty simple. The only way to adequately create that atmosphere is to forbid hiring and interviews until after the season is complete. It’s the same concept as Free Agency is for the players and to me it evens things out.

The second third and final thing I would change is the ability for a team to block interviews. For example let’s say I’m Klint Kubiak, son of Gary, the Denver Broncos, Assistant Quarterback Coach, or is that Assistant to the QB Coach?, either way, lets say the Atlanta Falcons or some other random team want to interview me for their QB coach position, or OC position, quite frankly the Broncos should not be able to block it.  If a team wanted to interview Bill Musgrave for OC, then they should have the ability to block it since it would be a lateral move, but if a coach is in line for a promotion, I don’t think the team should have the right to block that from happening. Obviously you want to build a great coaching staff, something that is a bit lacking currently, but in my perspective, it’s simply not fair to block someone moving up the ladder, even if the ladder is with another team. If you like him  that much, then promote him. That might mean getting rid of someone to do so. Nothing will likely come from it, but I’m simply piggybacking this thought on the other hiring concept.

At the end of the day, it was fun to make fun of both the Colts and Josh McDaniels, but unfortunately, two teams I detest are stronger, so those laughs don’t last forever.

While I’m happy with the Broncos hiring Vic Fangio, I’d be more comfortable in the hiring process, both for a HC, OC/DC, etc or even position coaches as a team fills out a staff, or upgrades a staff if there was a hiring freeze/hiatus until after all the competitive games are complete for the year. It creates an even playing field for both team and coaches. 

Why Structure is the key to the NFL Salary Cap

I mentioned on twitter and possibly another post that structure is the name of the game when it comes to an NFL Contract and the Salary Cap

Here is a look at Jimmy “Seven Starts” Garoppolo’s contract he recently signed with the 49ers via overthecap.com:

Jimmy Garoppolo signed a 5 year, $137.5 million contract with the 49ers on February 8, 2019. All contract details come via a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and please credit accordingly. Garoppolo received a $7 million signing bonus and $28 million roster bonus as part of his first year salary. His 2018 and $7.5 million of his 2019 salary are fully guaranteed bringing the full guarantee to $48.7 million. $74.1 million of the contract is guaranteed for injury. There are annual per game roster bonuses of $800,000.

The key components are the guaranteed dollars of the deal and the Cash Flow (meaning how quickly does the player get paid).

The 49ers had the luxury of “front-loading” the contract by allocating $37M in cap dollars in year 1. For the Broncos while “mathematically possible, via some moves, it would not be logical for the Broncos to set up a contract for a QB or anyone in this nature at this point.  When the Broncos signed Peyton Manning they were in a better cap situation than they are now and that afforded them to essentially treat Manning’s contract from a cap perspective as more of a year to year format with the bulk of the cap # coming from his base salary each year.  Had they been in their current situation his contract would have looked a bit different and likely a bit more like the hypothetical contract below.

Hypothetical 5 year $137.5 M deal with $48.7M+ guaranteed.

The biggest difference is that the 49ers are paying JG a $28.8M roster bonus, a $7M signing bonus and  higher base salary, while the hypothetical, is paying a $41.2M signing bonus, and a smaller base salary. The signing bonus allows for proration over the 5 years of the contract, while the 49ers are choosing to absorb more of a hit in year 1.

At the end of the day, this contract pays the player the same amount of money that the 49ers are paying Garoppolo, and I made sure to structure it so that the cash per year payout was identical to Garoppolo’s current deal, but gave him a tiny bit more of a guarantee just to make it “better”

Cash vs Cash

The cash payout in year 1 consists of Signing Bonus + Base Salary + Roster/Workout Bonus. In Years 2-5 it is simply Base Salary + Roster/Workout Bonus.

Cap vs. Cap is where the key differences come in.

Again, the 49ers had the luxury of being able to allocate 26.9% of the total contract in year 1. The Broncos for example, would prefer a smaller cap hit in year 1, and the $9.6M that the hypothetical provides is a vast difference between the 49ers structure.

The 49ers are paying more up front and have lower cap hits in year 2-5, but they can afford to do so.  A team like the Broncos would prefer the smaller/climbing structure so that there is an immediate impact on the cap that allows them to look at other free agents as well.  Down the road, should Jimmy G, not shine like the 49ers think he will, it would be easier for them to get out of the contract than if the contract was structured the way the hypothetical is because money comes off the books quicker from a cap perspective. There are Pros and Cons to everything, and in the NFL there isn’t a perfect contract when it comes to a high end acquisitions.

The AAV (Annaual Average Value) of both deals is $27.5M, but the two structures provide two entirely different  looking contracts from a cap perspective, but at the end of the day, It’s the same $, same years, same amount of guaranteed dollars.

 

 

 

What can the Broncos do in Free Agency with their Salary Cap Situation?

I won’t paraphrase that Vietnamese hooker in “Full Metal Jacket” by saying “anything they want”, but Kirk Cousins(or free agent QB of your choice) “ain’t too goddamned beaucoup.”

If a player is cut, traded, or moved on from, then there are a number of reasons involved as opposed to simply being a salary cap necessity to sign Kirk Cousins.  Can the Broncos keep their core group of players and sign Cousins to a high end contract? Yes.  Anyone suggesting otherwise is simply ignorant of the NFL Salary Cap.

The Broncos via overthecap.com/sportrac.com have roughly 25-26M in cap space. That # could increase when the cap is officially set likely within  the next 20-30 days(more on that later).

 

 

Reports  have it that Kirk Cousins could seek a $25-30M per year deal, but that doesn’t mean it has to be $25-30M across the board in each year. It can be structured as such, and it can be structured in various other ways too.  San Francisco had the luxury of being able to front-load much of Jimmy Seven Starts contract that was announced last week.  Denver doesn’t have that luxury. If anything, they would be more likely to back end the contract meaning lower cap totals up front that grow higher each year.

 

Cap Growth

I went with a fairly conservative estimate of 7%, an even more conservative example of 5% is shown a little bit lower.

Broncos Recent Spending on the QB position

As you can see, the Broncos have shopped at the bargain bin ever since Peyton Manning retired.  The Broncos have spent the fewest $’s in the NFL over the  past two years on the Quarterback position and it is not relatively close.   The lack of development from the QBs that are on the roster is a main reason forcing John Elway and the front office to look at  every option. Kirk Cousins is an attractive option and thankfully Washington shit the bed in how they handled him by tagging him two years in a row and not investing that money in a contract extension.

I won’t pretend to say that this is the contract that Kirk Cousins will sign with Denver, or that they will even offer him a contract structured in this way, or anything along those lines.  It is simply being presented as an option available to them. It is simply one option that a) allows the Broncos to sign the top free agent QB to hit the market since Peyton Manning (Drew Brees is a free agent, but he’s said he’s a Saint for life). b) it is structured in  way that would give Cousins a 2018 cap hit under $10M, and a 2019 cap hit under $17M and more importantly allows them to keep players in place. It comes at a secondary cost as  that it pushes money down the road, but the cap has historically grown, and with the new Thursday Night TV deal, I would be surprised if that the estimated cap of $178M, doesn’t end up in the $182-185M + range.

Hypothetical Kirk Cousins contract proposals

Contract 1

It is a pretty generic. 5 year $135M. It can be tweaked here and there.  It gives him a workout bonus. As structured, it comes with $87M guaranteed and set up to convert his 2019 base salary into a 2nd bonus, thus  generating cap space in 2019 as well.

Contract 2

A second option would be to ignore the conversion of the 2019 base salary and simply pay the $30M base salary.  If they felt comfortable with accounting for it all in that year It would increase the  year 2 cap hit drastically, but would lower the cap #’s in the last three years of the contract when compared to the first hypothetical proposal

Other Options

They could go with an initial 3-4 year deal that comes with a year 3 or 4 team option bonus that if the marriage is working it allows the team to tack on some years, but that can become to look complicated, so we will stick with the simplicity above, but the team has options.

Again, this is not suggesting this will be a deal offered or signed, but it would be a viable option.  It provides a very affordable deal over the first two years and doesn’t obscenely or grossly compromise the future like some suggest. It’s not ideal but it can be done.

 

Cousins’ $/% of Future Cap Years

If you scroll up to the first chart, the Salary Cap has increased at a 7.7% rate over the past four years, so the 7% and 5% increases in the chart directly above are pretty  much lowball estimates, and even with the ballooning $35,36,37M cap hits in ’20-’22 they are still at  16-18% of the cap.  If the Cousins deal is more evenly distributed, then those numbers would be higher in first two years and lower in the last 3.  It’s all about the structure.

Oh and this is done without touching or massaging a current contract or cutting a current player. Imagine that. /Sarcasm

So if this deal were signed, and Kirk Cousins is under contract for 2018 with a $9.2M dollar cap hit. The Broncos would have 14M-15M left to spend on other free agents.  That’s not a ton of space, the rookie class could take $8-10M on their own. You’d like to improve other positions, have the ability to go shopping.

But guess what?  They can easily manufacture cap space.

Roster Turnover

Some players from the 2017 team will not be in Denver in 2018. It happens every year. There is turnover, it happens for various reasons. Age/ability/not a good schematic fit/etc. Some guys that are free agents won’t even be offered a contract, I’m looking at you Eric Decker.  A prime example. They didn’t even talk #’s. Malik Jackson?  He likely fits that example as well. Maybe they would have took less to stay with the only team they ever knew at that point. Who knows.  The guys that were on the ’17 team that currently don’t have a contract some know their time in Denver is done.  It happens.

Creating Cap Space

Here are 5 moves that retain key pieces and create $35M which would push the available total after signing Cousins to contract(if structured in that way) to $49-50M in cap space without cutting a single player. It’s not presented as a fact that it will happen, just as potential options.   These are not all or nothing type deals, the total listed is just a cumulative total of the moves. Any one could be done as  single move.

Scenario 1

 

movesscenarioA1Out of these five, two are more questionable than others(Talib/Thomas).  If Talib doesn’t accept the deal that extends his stay in Denver, then they cut/trade him and his cap savings increases(more on that below).  Thomas has the last years of his deal replaced with a portion of his ’19 contract guaranteed and paying him the cash he would receive in 2018 anyway.  The other 3 are simply converting all but the league minimum of their base salary which would lower their current cap hits. Again, the pros of these moves is it keeps players in place, it creates immediate cap room and and the con is that it pushes the savings down the road.   This defense is built to win now and has wasted two years on Quarterbacks that have not developed.

Scenario 2

Option 2 creates more space, but you lose a 1,000 yard rusher, a pair of wide receivers and two key defenders and that would make Denver less attractive to free agents whether they are quarterbacks or not.

This is more blow everything up and start over scenario, but quite frankly without upgrading the Quarterback position there is not much need to spend $22M on wide receivers. The status quo sucks. They are a dynamic pair and are great players and I am certainly not advocating this scenario in any way shape or form, but with the quarterbacks currently on the roster they are being wasted and they are expensive. It’s like putting a set of $500.00 racing tires on a wrecked 1990 Ford Escort.

There are likely players that are currently under contract that John Elway wants to move on from, whether they go after a high end QB or not. Some will spin it as blah blah blah Kirk Cousins blah blah blah. There are guys that Elway will likely talk to and say “we need to talk about your cap #”, so of those might find employment elsewhere, some can restructure. The examples above, like Wolfe, it’s just an option that might present itself.  With his injury, #7 might make that decision for him.

Other options that could be in play would be to extend a couple of the younger guys, guys that you know that are going to be in Denver over the next three to four years barring a catastrophic injury.  If structured the right way that can create space. There are many tools available to Elway and Mike Sullivan and his staff have more knowledge about the salary cap than I do, but I know enough about it to know that the things documented here are possible.

This was simply a post to show that Kirk Cousins can be obtained without cutting every player but #58 and that it can be structured in a way that does not totally sacrifice the future. There has simply been too much misinformation spewed that taints this subject.

He might go to New York, or Cleveland for more money than anyone has even suggested he will get. Good for him. He might take less than the $27M that has been tossed around so much to go to a Minnesota, a Jacksonville or a Denver. Again, this  was  based on Kirk  Cousins since  he’s at the top of the list, but the same concepts could be used with lower sets of #’s for say a Case Keenum or other free agent QBs, or even if they traded draft capital and extended a QB like Nick “I just beat the Patriots Ass” Foles, but that can involve other scenarios.

Can Cousins come to Denver? Easily.  Will he come to Denver? Time will tell. Time always tells.

The Legendary and Iconic Keith Jackson has passed away. His voice echoed through so many autumns on Saturday afternoons,Monday Nights and ringing in a New Year at “The Granddaddy of Them All”, The Rose Bowl.  

It wasn’t just football, he had a voice in just about anything to do with the sports world from the Olympics, baseball, basketball, Wide World of Sports, you name it.

Rest in peace.

The audio clip shows him introducing some young kid from New Orleans to the football world.

https://a.tumblr.com/tumblr_p2i5hbVXC11s5gh7fo1.mp3

The Clip was unfortunately cut short, and the full quote is shown below.

“Here comes Peyton Manning making his entry as the Quarterback for the University of Tennessee. Get used to it.”

Keith Jackson, September 3, 1994, Rose Bowl • Pasadena, California

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