You Can’t Go “Willy Nilly” Trading Players

When Jay Cutler was recently traded to the Chicago Bears after being disgruntled by the combined firing of Mike Shanahan and the hiring of current Head Coach Josh McDaniels, he seemingly pouted enough and eventually got his way.  This could not be more further from the truth. While it may have looked like a starting quarterback who was unhappy with his current situation was able to get his sports agent to broker a deal to get him out of Denver, the truth is, the Chicago Bears were the ones who had the means to make the deal work. Yes, there were other teams in the mix as well, but there is something missing that most sports writers and talk show pundits do not talk about because they do not understand how the dynamics work. 

When a team trades a player, who is not in the last year of his contract, there are some accounting/book keeping issues that many do not understand that must allow for the trade to take place.  On July 27, 2006, Jay Cutler signed a six-year, $47.86 million contract. The contract contained $11 million guaranteed which was essentially paid as signing bonus (actually there were roster bonuses and option bonuses, but we will keep this example simple for illustration purposes and refer to them wholly as signing bonus). The signing bonus is prorated over the six years of the contract which equates to $1,833,333 per year.  When a player is traded, he is essentially cut (or released; pick your own term).  There is an accounting mechanism that must take place. Cutler still had three years remaining on his contract, and a combined $5.5 million dollars of signing bonus left on the books. All of that money accelerates forward into the current year (2009) of the Denver Broncos when he is traded.  Subsequently, the Chicago Bears, or any other team that was interested in him, had to have at least $5.5 million in salary cap room to absorb the traded contract.  When teams are looking to trade for a high-profile player, they have to go through an exhaustive exercise of which player or players could potentially be released should there not be enough salary cap space available to facilitate the trade.

So now that the rumors are rampant that current Denver Broncos WR Brandon Marshall is requesting a trade and if he yells, pouts and screams loud enough he will get his wishes; do not count on it.  There may be one high-profile trade per year per team because the current salary cap rules and structure will not allow for anything more. Mark my words, unless Marshall gets into further legal troubles, he will remain a member of the Denver Broncos through the 2009 season.Brandon Marshall That should make all of you Denver Broncos fans quite happy!


About this entry