It looks like both the player and the team got what they wanted from the contract that Jason Hatcher signed with the Redskins on Friday. Hatcher gets a good chunk of money up front and the team gets the ability to escape the contract in a couple of years with minimal pain.
The top-line numbers are $27.5 million over four years but as anyone who follows the NFL closely knows the devil is in the details. And, as noted, the details have something good for Hatcher and the Redskins.
The contract has $10.5 million in guaranteed money and it’s fully guaranteed. In fact, Hatcher probably already has the $9 million signing bonus sitting in his bank account. His $1.5 million salary for this year is also guaranteed.
After that, there are no guarantees, no option or roster bonuses, no other complexities to the contract. Hatcher has non-guaranteed salaries of $3 million next year ($5.25 million cap hit), $6.5 million in 2016 ($8.75 million cap), and $7.5 million in 2017 ($9.75 million cap).
The absence of guarantees after the first year is a reflection of Hatcher’s age. He will be 32 before training camp starts. If in 2016 the Redskins don’t think they want to pay a player entering his age 34 season $6.5 million they would be able to release him while taking a very manageable dead cap hit of $4.5 million and they would be saving $2 million in cap charges (his salary minus the dead cap hit).
If that happens, Hatcher will ride into the sunset having made $13.5 million for two years of work. Not bad for a guy who just finished making $6 million over the last three years.
If they hang on to him for another year, they will have $2.25 million in dead cap to deal with if he’s cut in 2017.
Hatcher will have to be at or near his Pro-Bowl level of performance this year and pretty good next season to make the deal worthwhile. There is good reason to think that he will but with any free agent (or with any player in any situation, for that matter), you never know.