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The Redskins have a first-of-its-kind decision to make regarding Ryan Kerrigan but they have some time to make it.
Kerrigan is a member of the first draft class under the current collective bargaining agreement (technically the CBA was finalized well after the draft but it was retroactive). The deal create a rookie salary structure that, among other things, makes all contracts for draft picks four years, no more and no less.
But there is a provision that gives the team the option to make the contracts for first-round picks into five-year deals. The salary for the option year depends on where the player was drafted. If he was taken in the top 10 the salary is equal to the transition tender for his position or the average of the salaries of the top 10 players at the position. For players taken with picks 11-32 the salary is the average of the top 25 players at his position excluding the top three.
Kerrigan was the 16th overall pick in that draft so that would put him in the latter category. The exact salary that he would get is not yet known since we don’t know what the linebacker salaries will be a year from now. But it appears that Kerrigan’s 2015 salary would be in the $3-$4 million range if the Redskins exercise the option. That will represent a nice raise over the $1.56 million in salary that Kerrigan is slated to make this year but possibly not as much as he might get in the open market as an unrestricted free agent.
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The team’s option to impose a salary might seem like a one-sided deal and in a lot of way it is. However, there are some facets of the system that work in the player’s favor.
The team has to declare that it will exercise its option by May 3 of this year. They will have to agree to pay the player the calculated salary regardless of how well or how poorly he might play in 2014.
On top of that, the salary is fully guaranteed the moment the team exercises the option. If the player gets injured or if his play falls off of the face of the earth he still collects the full amount.
The CBA also allows players to renegotiate their deals after the third year. Although that is something that can happen as soon as the team’s season ends, it seems unlikely that the Redskins will be inclined to do this with Kerrigan.
A year from now, the Redskins will be facing the same set of choices with quarterback Robert Griffin III. As the second overall pick in 2012, Griffin will qualify for the higher option salary, the average of the top 10 quarterbacks.