Andy Dalton's Actual Contract Numbers Are Not So Crazy

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If you have paid any attention to the NFL, you know that Andy Dalton's "six-year, $115 million contract" was never going to be for six years or $115 million. Well, Pro Football Talk has the details. It's basically a two-year, $25 million deal, with a series of one-year team options after that.


The deal doesn't officially kick in until the 2015 season and runs through 2020, but it contains guaranteed money now. Here's how Mike Florio describes it:

Dalton receives a signing bonus of $12 million and a roster bonus in three days of $5 million. That's a total of $17 million out of the gates. Coupled with his $986,000 base salary (which isn't guaranteed as a legal matter but it is as a practical matter), Dalton will make $18 million in the first year of the deal.

Then, on the third day of the 2015 league year in March, Dalton earns a $4 million roster bonus. He also has a $3 million non-guaranteed base salary in 2015. That's $25 million over two years.


The rest of the base deal is simple. In addition to annual workout bonuses of $200,000, Dalton has base salaries of $10.5 million in 2016, $13.1 million in 2017, $13.7 million in 2018, $16 million in 2019, and $17.5 million in 2020.


The deal also contains escalators tied to the Bengals' playoff performances. (Cincinnati is 0-3 under Dalton.) Reaching the divisional round of the postseason earns him an additional $1 million for each remaining year; reaching the conference championship, another $500,000; for a Super Bowl win, another $1.5 million.

Hot take coming through: Andy Dalton's not going to win the next six Super Bowls, so $115 million's an imaginary figure. But what is the deal actually worth in real-world numbers? The Bengals essentially have their choice of the following deals. (Numbers are without potential playoff escalators, and include the upcoming final season on Dalton's last contract.)

  • Two years, $25 million.
  • Three years, $35.7 million
  • Four years, $49 million.
  • Five years, $62.9 million.
  • Six years, $79.1 million.
  • Seven years, $96.8 million.

Without knowing what the future holds, this contract is very much in line with the 49ers' extension with Colin Kaepernick. Both are heavily weighted with incentives for winning, and both quickly become year-to-year deals.


So is it a good deal or not? A lot of that depends on when the Bengals decide to get rid of Dalton. (And the decision will be unilaterally theirs.) But no matter how it goes, right now this feels like a market-rate contract for a league-average quarterback.