"You are educated when you have the ability to listen to almost anything
without losing your temper or self-confidence." - Robert Frost

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Steelers Weeks 8 -10

Steelers 25    Patriots 17
New England    -3    @Pittsburgh    52    -170  +150
Win Probability  38.52%

Ravens 23    Steelers 20
@Pittsburgh    -3.5    Baltimore    41.5    -200  +170
Win Probability  64.81%

Steelers 24     Bengals 17
Pittsburgh    -3.5    @Cincinnati    40    -205    +175
Win Probability  65.42%

The Steelers navigated the gauntlet part of their schedule with a very respectable 2-1 record with an impressive victory over New England, a heartbreaking loss to the Ravens and a nice bounce-back road victory at Cincinnati.

It could be argued they lost the most important of the three contests, but I think if you offered any Steelers fan the option of a 2-1 record back on October 29th without telling them who the loss was against, they would have accepted it.  I know I would have.

Now the team gets a much deserved rest and has the potential to make a nice run in December towards the playoffs.  The bye week should give the team an opportunity to get healthy and have all hands on deck.  This includes Lamarr Woodley, James Farrior and Hines Ward.  In fact, other than the season ending injury to Aaron Smith, I would think there is potential to have every other major contributor ready to go by the playoffs.

All-in-all the season to date has been acceptable.  We are overachieving slightly (by about a ½ game in the win column) and have a decent shot to put up a 12 win season.  That’s pretty good when you consider the common hangover associated with a Super Bowl loser the previous season.

From a statistical analysis, there is room for improvement and there are still frustrating inconsistencies on both sides of the football.  But again, there aren’t many teams in the league we can’t compete with on any given Sunday, even playing just good football.  In the current landscape of the NFL, there is Green Bay and then a lot of tier-2 teams that flash exceptional football.  The Steelers are in this next group along with Baltimore, New England, Houston (who is now without Matt Schaub), both New York teams, Cincinnati, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans and Atlanta.  It appears there is more luck and a timely play that separate these teams than talent and/or coaching.

I guess that will make for an exciting brand of playoff football this January.

So what is next?  Beating the teams we’re supposed to beat and bringing a consistent brand of football between the lines in the process.  Taking care of business and being professional.  Concentration and mistake free execution at critical points on the field (3rd downs, red zone).  Further expansion of our pass defense (using both man and zone concepts) and the ability to adjust as need be to situations and quarterbacks.

That’s the key for the Steelers 2011 season.  We have positioned ourselves to make a run.  We have survived injuries.  Players have stepped up when asked. Now we just let the chips fall where they may.

Go Steelers!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Steelers Weeks 4-7

I apologize for the lack of posts.  I wanted to write a weekly game-by-game article on the Steelers, but that got lost in the shuffle of work and kids b-day’s.

So let’s look back at the last month, how we handled the AFC South (and Arizona) and what our prospects are for moving forward.  In summary since week 3:

Steelers 10   Texans 17
@Houston    -4    Pittsburgh    46.5    -205  +175
Win Probability  34.58%

Steelers 38   Titans 17
@Pittsburgh   -3   Tennessee   40   -190  +170
Win Probability  64.24%

Steelers 17   Jaguars 13
@Pittsburgh    -12.5    Jacksonville    40    -700  +500
Win Probability  85.42%

Steelers 32   Cardinals 20
Pittsburgh    -4    @Arizona    46    -220  +185
Win Probability   66.83%

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Steelers stand at 5-2 and atop the AFC North (a half game ahead of the Ravens and the surprising Bengals).  When compared to the expectations of win probability we are pretty much right on target, record-wise (win probability record:  4.72W - 2.28L).  And I would measure the fan base as being cautiously happy with our record to date.

The offense, thanks to better ball protection (only 2 turnovers in the last 4 games) is starting to show glimpses of what I had hoped from week 1.  There are still frustrating lapses into ugly play, but there is improvement.  The re-acquisition of Max Starks seems to really have helped the offensive line, even with some shuffling inside.  And the running game is better (both in quantity and quality statistics).

Roethlisberger has been a bit too inconsistent for my liking so far this season, but at least the turnover bug hasn’t reared its ugly head.  Part of that may be the result of a growing all-or-nothing offensive game plan.  Bruce Arians and company have embraced the long ball to Wallace and more playing time for Antonio Brown as major facets of this offense.  This isn’t a 12-play, 80-yard drive type of team anymore.  It is about chunks of yardage or bust.

The defense has been steady, bordering on exceptional if you look at the numbers, but has had the benefit of playing inexperienced QB’s (Jackson, Painter, Gabbert, Kolb).  This results in the “cautious optimism” I spoke of before from the fan base.  And while injuries have hampered James Harrison, Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu has remained healthy over the past month and looked extremely athletic and disruptive.  If this group could ever start to generate turnovers, watch out.

However, we still (after 7 games) don’t really know who the 2011 Steelers are.  The lack of quality opponents, the up-and-down flashes of good football, the occasional glimpses of complete ineptness on offense all lead to an uncertainty moving forward into the meat of our schedule.

And the tough part of the schedule, we all know, is coming:

New England, Baltimore, @Cincinnati, bye week

We win all three and we are clear-cut favorites in the AFC and the #1 seed is in our control with a bye week and relatively easy remaining schedule (think 2004).

Lose all three and we are behind both Baltimore and Cincinnati in the division and are out of the playoff picture without help (think 2005 or 2009).

Has there ever been a 3-game stretch that seems to have such a huge disparity on our season’s outcome?  If there has, I don’t remember it.

And honestly, I don’t have any gut feeling on how this will play out.  I could pretend to offer expert analysis or how I would set up the defense vs. New England (play Troy in the box!!!) or how I think Baltimore is ripe for the taking, but that’s all conjecture.  The truth is 0-3 or 3-0 and anything in between is possible.

So let’s enjoy NOT knowing.  Let’s stop with the over-analysis, pour a beer, put on our jerseys, grab the terrible towels and just watch.  This stretch might define our season and be something we remember for a long time (for good or bad).  That’s why we like sports.

The World Series is over.  There is no NBA.  The Penguins are on cruise control.  The weather is changing (it’s going to be 45 degrees this Saturday!).  Halloween is here.

It’s football time and for the first time this season, I’m anxious to get into the tough games full force as a fan.  Bring it on and let’s kick some ass!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Steelers 23 Colts 20

Pittsburgh    -11    at Indianapolis       40       -650   +475
Projected Win Pecentage:      84.64%

Good morning.

This might be the most disappointed I’ve seen the Steelers’ fan base following a victory in the Tomlin regime.  And even I take little optimism following the national prime time performance last Sunday night.

It is frustrating as a fan to see the same modus operandi for how we struggle offensively over and over and over again since 2007.  The anger clearly comes from the insanity of watching us do these same things repeatedly.  And to a fan, we all know what these things are:

1.  Dismal offensive line play to the point the plays calls and execution break down so quickly it is laughingstock.

2.  Running plays so poorly designed vs. the opponent’s defensive methods you want to smack your head into a wall.

3.  Unintelligent quarterback play (particularly on the road) resulting in turnovers, untimely sacks to take us out of field goal range and odd play calls/audibles.

4.  A general lack of acknowledgement of these weaknesses from the entire organization both pre-game and post-game that leaves fans dumbfounded and angry.

We can all what-if the personnel decisions this team made over the summer to establish the offensive line players going into the season.  And for some reason injuries are following the group (and Sean Kugler) like some unseen curse.  But this is only part of the problem.

I have stated this since 2008 that the basic issue is the simple fact running the ball is not very high on the priority list for this organization.  The fact remains the background of every major person responsible for our offense (Colbert, Tomlin, Arians, Roethlsiberger, Kugler) has no track record of success in the running game.  Each person’s background is geared towards perimeter players (WR’s, QB’s, DB’s) and the passing game.

Do we forget Colbert’s history as part of both Miami’s organization (arriving the year after Dan Marino’s acquisition) and the Detroit Lions (arriving the year after Barry Sander’s acquisition)?  That Miami never ran the ball effectively in the 1980’s and how the Lion’s of the 90’s ran the run-and-shoot (without a tight end on the roster)?  Or that in each case, the year after Colbert left those organizations, both teams had such weaknesses at offensive line they both heavily drafted linemen the following seasons (Miami drafted Richmond Webb and Keith Sims in 1990, while the Lions drafted offensive tackles with 1st round picks in both 2000 and 2001).

Do we forget what Arians’ history tells us?  That he was a quarterback at Virginia Tech (total record there, 12-20-1) and as a 1974 starter was 4-7.  That as head coach of Temple he rode his prize 1983 recruit, Paul Palmer, into the ground (1035 touches), put Temple Football on the map only to follow up Palmer’s career with two dismal seasons averaging 16.4 ppg and going 7-15.  That his 3-year stint with Jackie Sherrill at Mississippi State (offensive coordinator) ended with a 14-18-2 record (Sherrill’s worst 3-year stretch in his first 10 years there).  That during his one year as offensive coordinator at Alabama (1997) his claim to fame was putting sophomore Shaun Alexander (yes, that Shaun Alexander) third on the running back depth chart, leading a 69th ranked scoring offense (out of 112 teams) and being a part of Alabama’s worst team of the 1990’s (4-7 record).

When he became the Browns offensive coordinator in 2001 (hired by a career college coach in Butch Davis), his offense ranked 25th, 19th and 28th in scoring.  That his attempt to help Tim Couch out of his 51-sack shell-shocked rookie season went nowhere.  That the offense gave up 51, 35 and 40 sacks.  That the offense ranked 21st, 26th and 27th in rushing attempts.  That despite the failing offensive line, the team in 2001 drafted a WR in round 2 and RB in round 3 and followed that in 2002 by drafting  a RB in round 1 and a WR in round 2? (this after the previous regime drafted a WR, RB, WR in the top 100 picks in 2000).  Oh… and his record at Cleveland was 21-27.

We can add, even though I think it is minor, that Tomlin also lacks any/all knowledge of how effective running games work.  His tenures at William & Mary, Tampa Bay and Minnesota certainly didn’t involve any run-game “gurus”.  And to think he would override his offensive coaches to fix the problem isn’t likely based on his knowledge of the game.

History does not paint a pretty picture of Bruce Arians and never has.  Nor does it favor Kevin Colbert’s track record with offensive line development.

The truth is the minute Ken Whisenhunt (former TE) and Russ Grimm (former offensive lineman) left this organization, the creativity, commitment and genius with respect to running the football went with them.

While this may be also a trend throughout the league (the run game guru coaches seem far and few between), it seems to have hit the Steelers hardest with how and when we struggle offensively.  And I don’t really have any answer as to how and fix it.

The problem is deeper than adding a player to the o-line, or hoping an injury didn’t happen or changing game plans.  It is systemic within the organization from top-to-bottom.  It is a reality of the way the team is built and coached.  We will live and die with a mediocre run game being the goal, not the worst case scenario and that in turns means we live and die on the health and ability of Ben Roethlisberger to make plays under chaotic circumstances.

As with previous seasons, we’ll see what happens for better or worse.  In two of the past four seasons “better” has prevailed and in the other two, “worse” has prevailed.  The arrow is pointing down at the moment, but the season is still early.  The 2008 Eagles game proves we can bounce back from horrific offensive performances.  Let’s hope 2011 is a similar type season.

But to not expect more of the same, either this year or next or as long as Tomlin, Arians and Roethlisberger are with the team is foolish.  As the saying goes, "fool me once..."

The offensive issues, as defined above, will reappear at some point.  It’s not a matter of if, but when.  The only unknown is whether or not is costs us our season.

Thanks for reading and let’s hope for some fortune vs. Houston.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Steelers 24 Seahawks 0

at Pittsburgh       -14       Seattle        40          -1000   +700
Win Precentage:  89.2%

It is very hard to me to know whether the Steelers are good or the Seahawks are just very bad from what happened yesterday on the field.

Obviously, the result is extremely acceptable.  We dominated all phases of the game and grinded out a solid 24 point victory and collected a shut-out in the process.  As with last week however, the only score that really matters is now 1-1, which is our record after two weeks of the season.

I would also venture that a team like Green Bay or New England would have beat the Seahawk team I watched by 50 points.  But do you really penalize a team’s performance for only winning by 24 points?

Already, this season is reminding me eerily of 2007.  That was Tomlin’s first season and our schedule was one of the easiest in recent memory.  The Steelers were favored by 4+ points in each of their first 12 contests, including six favored by 9+ points.  The team opened to a 9-3 record but those of us that studied tape knew the team wasn’t playing well and wasn’t executing well.  The running game was bad.  The offense looked lost at time in Arians’ first season.  The offensive line with Sean Mahan at center was consistently getting dominated in the trenches.  The defense was injured and kind of patching things together with string and masking tape.

We all know how that season ended.  The ill-fated New England blowout and two home losses (one in the playoffs) to Jacksonville highlighted four losses in our final five games.  The team looked beat up, out-coached and lacking talented depth players.

When I look back at the failings of that season, it was the overconfidence Tomlin, the coaches and team had about their ability based (apparently) solely on their 9-3 record.  Tomlin preached so much concern about wins/losses, that they seemed oblivious to the lack of execution happening week-in, week-out vs. weaker opponents.

While I love Tomlin’s results oriented approach sometimes (it rubs off on the team to make for a very resilient group), this coaching staff does not seem obsessed with “the relentless pursuit of perfection” when it comes to play execution.  There are consistently too many mental and physical breakdowns on plays we should easily have success on vs. the talent across from us.

For history not to repeat itself, I am hoping for the following:

1.  Tomlin has acknowledge he overworked the team his rookie season and that this contributed to their physical breakdowns as the season wore on.  With the oldest team in the league, Tomlin has to walk a fine line between working on improving execution and not overworking them physically.

2.  In that respect, Tomlin has to take a better psychological approach in post-game comments about the team.  Instead of praising them for wins, he should adeptly derail them for lack of execution.  This veteran team can take some criticism, both publically and privately.  And Tomlin has to honestly grade his team to the media.  Based on Sunday, we are not ready for the better teams in the league and Tomlin can’t and shouldn’t sugar coat that.

3.  One of the big differences I see from 2007 is the fact this team has better depth players.  When Aaron Smith was hurt that year, the run defense greatly suffered, but I see better front-7 players now on the roster.  And even some emerging depth in the secondary might hold up late in the season.

4.  The team HAS to stop creating offensive game plans that believe our offensive line is above average.  They are not.  They are obviously very below average and unless the offensive game plans compensate for this weakness, Roethlisberger is going to get more than just beat up and sore on game days.  He is going to suffer another concussion or worse.  Considering the team we faced, Roethlisberger took entirely too many big hits in that game.  Going into every game, there has to be a conversation on how to prevent Roethlisberger from taking too many hits.

As I stated in my pre-season analysis, this team is loaded with talent and that talent showed itself yesterday.  But the coaches need to realistically look at the weaknesses on this team and actually game plan to protect those weaknesses from being abused.  Nothing is more important going forward that how Tomlin coaches this team right now.

We need to relentlessly pursue perfection knowing that if we do, we might find excellence along the way.  Keeping this team focused on this task and not becoming complacent with a decent record is paramount for our season.

Thanks for reading.
~ dejzc

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ravens 35 Steelers 7

 at Ravens           -1            Steelers             37         -125   +105
Projected Win %          46.61%

If you are a Steelers fan, all you can ask for is a do-over.  Erase the game from your minds as much as possible, hope everything bad we saw isn’t a permanent trend for the season and get ready to host the Seahawks in 6 days.

Remember, there is only one score that matters and that’s 0-1.

Fortunately for us, a 35-7 score counts the same as 21-20.  It’s only one loss and one many Steelers fans would have accepted on our schedule forecasting the season.

Do I even bother to make comments on the game?  Is there one part of the blowout that angers me more than others?  In the spirit of “analysis”, I’ll try:

1.  As a closet GM, it is frustrating to me to see the Ravens so easily fix their pre-season offensive line issues while the Steelers continue to wallow if poor offensive line play going on five seasons.  The Ravens o-line was horrid three weeks and watching Ozzie Newsome and Co. bring in McKinney, shuffle the line around, patiently wait for a healthy Matt Birk and put out a unit week 1 that flat out dominated a deep Steelers front-7 was not only discouraging, but downright sickening to my stomach.  Is it really that easy?

2.  Speaking of offensive lines, we might as well admit the Steelers right guard spot will again be the worst in the NFL this season (going on 4 seasons).  Doug Legursky isn’t the answer and Foster would not be an improvement.  I’m disappointed with the decision to cut Tony Hills and this game didn’t change my mind.

3.   I know fans want to sweep the whole game under the rug, but I thought the Steelers were in the game and had weathered the storm when we had possession down 14-7 in the 2nd quarter with 8:00 until halftime. The offense had just scored.  The defense had just forced a punt.  The game wasn’t out of hand.   To have an ugly 3-and-out (3 incomplete passes), punt and then allowing the long, 5+ minute Ravens drive (giving up four 3rd down conversions in the process) to go up 21-7 that was the true backbreaker.  I give a lot of credit to the Ravens during this stretch.  We can talk all we want about the turnover-fests in quarters one and three, but the Ravens solidified the game in the 2nd quarter with those two series by just out-executing us.

4.  I am not going to single out any unit more than others for the loss.  Every facet of the team, ranging from Roethlisberger to the running backs, receivers, O-line, D-line, linebackers and defensive backs played below par and failed to make key plays or take advantage of opportunities.  One game does not make a trend for any of these groups.

5.  I do feel a bit disappointed that this game will statistically ruin Roethlisberger’s season.  I had such high hopes for an MVP quality year.  Committing five turnovers, after committing only EIGHT all of last season will be hard to overcome.  Scoring 7 points will be hard to overcome for the offense.  There are no such things as mulligans to the national media and I just don’t see how Roethlisberger and the offense can overcome such a poor performance.  Maybe by December we’ll be singing a different tune, but it would have been nice to have a few garbage drives late to at least make things respectable on paper.

If anything, you hope this game acts as a wakeup call to everyone from the general manager and coaching staff down to the star players and scrubs.  We didn’t come prepared mentally and physically and we got our asses kicked by an arch-rival.  No excuses.  The Ravens deserved to win by a large margin.  I can only hope this isn’t the Super Bowl hangover so many Steelers haters predicted.

Back to the drawing board and let’s hope for just a nice step in the right direction against a bad team in the Seahawks next week in our home opener.

Signing off….


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to Measure Expectations

How to Measure Expectations:

For many years I wanted to try to statistically measure a “successful season”.  In chat rooms across the country, there is often the hard-core fan that insists every year is Super Bowl champions or bust.  That anything but winning is a disappointment.  But those same fans often defend players and coaches for jobs well done even during non-championship seasons.

A decade ago, I used to define a successful football season as “reaching the AFC Championship game”.  This definition worked well for the Steelers (the Cowher-led Steelers went to 6 AFC championship games in 15 seasons).  And since a majority of these were even without a dominant QB, it always seemed an acceptable goal heading into new seasons.  No excuses, right?

But I came to realize that what a Steelers fan might consider “successful” is not the same as what a Raiders fan would, or an Eagles fan, or a Lions fan.  The truth is, each team enters the season with an “expected” amount of success, often defined by the media pundits and analysts. And often, exceeding those expectations can satisfy many fan bases.  Even today, you hear about Tampa Bay’s “successful” season of 2010, even though they failed to make the playoffs.

The obvious difficulty is trying to measure the media/fan base expectations of a game or season.  Pre-season predictions hardly seem “scientific” enough for accurate analysis.

That caused me to turn to another neutral evaluator of teams:  Las Vegas.

Las Vegas predicts the likelihood of victory every week using odds and point spreads and vigorish.   And these odds are surprisingly unbiased in their analysis.

What if I assign an “expected win %” to each game a team plays (using Vegas odds) and then analyze how that team fairs compared to this baseline?

After experimentation on a number of teams, this became a surprising easy statistical measure of over- or underachieving.  And in every case, matched exactly the mood of the corresponding fan base.  Especially if given time to reflect after an emotional playoff loss.

Periodically throughout this season, I will look at how the Steelers are performing based on this analysis and I promise it will correctly match the current mood of Steelers Nation.  In fact, I have been doing this analysis over the past five seasons (since 2006).  The results are listed below:

YEAR         ACTUAL W-L       EXPECTED W-L            PLAYOFFS               Over/Underachieved

2006                8-8                       9.6 - 6.4                         X                               Underachieved
2007              10-6                     11.4 - 4.6        Lost (H) Wildcard               Underachieved
2008              12-4                      9.7 - 6.3                  Won SB                        Overachieved
2009                9-7                      11.0 - 5.0                        X                               Underachieved
2010              12-4                     10.1 - 5.9                  Lost SB                         Overachieved

Other websites construct expected win totals using complex formulas and point differential.  This analysis uses real-time expectations based on injuries, weather, streaks and the million other factors used to create Las Vegas betting lines each week.

If you would like me to analyze another team or two this year, I will be glad to “run the numbers” or share my spreadsheet and calculations with you.  It is a fun exercise that hasn’t failed to predict how a fair and unbiased fan should evaluate his/her own team.

Enjoy your seasons everyone.  I’m looking forward to 2011 and as always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 NFL Predictions

Although I always seem to make a fool of myself when I do this, I keep hoping to hit the lottery and look like a genius if everything comes together like I predict.  You can't win unless you bet so they say.

So without further ado, here is my 2011 NFL Season Predictions and how I see the playoffs happening.  I'm sorry Steelers fans for having us lose to San Diego at home.  That might be my way of not being overly cocky going into the season ;-)

AFC East

New England                           12-14 Wins
This team remains a juggernaut on offense and as the defense improves (I love the move to a 4-3 system), I see no way they don’t continue their recent regular season dominance.  The only thought in New England’s mind this year is Super Bowl of bust.  They have to start winning playoff games again.

New York Jets                          9-11
The most telling statistic for the Jets?  A minus .6 in passer rating differential.  Until I see the Jets offense be able to step up and be a 90+ passer rating team, I can’t imagine a situation where they squeak out more than 11 wins.  A flamboyant coach and complex defensive schemes can only get you so far.

Miami                                     6-8
Chad Henne is fortunate to get another year to prove himself.  Defensively, the Dolphins are big, physical and solid in all areas.  But 30th in scoring is a problem that I don’t see addressed this offseason enough to make a huge difference vs. last year’s performance.  Even an improvement to 20th likely yields a .500 record.

Buffalo                                    4-7
Buffalo is like the knife at a gun fight.  While you want to like them, their talent, firepower and resources just lack in comparison to the other teams in their division.  How long can Gailey’s feel good message work as the losses continue to pile up and the reality of no playoffs and in a division with three established big-market teams sinks in?

AFC North

Pittsburgh                                11-13
The 2011 schedule is favorable and similar to last season.  They return all 22 starters that are familiar with the offensive and defensive systems. This is one of the few teams that consistently places in the top-10 both offensively and defensively. I predict Roethlisberger gets serious MVP consideration as the Steelers stay in contention for the #1 seed most of the year.

Baltimore                                8-12
A tough team for me to predict because the vibe I’m getting out of Raven’s camp is really sketchy right now.  Questionable roster decisions have made for a weaker team on paper and contract situations (Flacco, Ngata) still seem outstanding.  While a collapse back to mediocrity seems unlikely, I can’t rule it out completely at this point.

Cleveland                                7-10
The Browns are poised to make a surprise run if Baltimore or Pittsburgh falter.  This team is still behind on experience and talent, but there is enough there to catch a little lightning in a bottle if the cards play right.  Colt McCoy seems just gritty enough and just tough enough to shut some people up if taken lightly.

Cincinnati                                3-5
Unless Palmer materialized to save Andy Dalton from himself, this is a train wreck waiting to happen.  Almost every piece of the puzzle looks to have question marks and the whole organization seems hanging by a thread.  It just wouldn’t surprise me at all if Cincinnati was the worst team in the league this year, Dalton’s play leads to more questions than answers, and Marvin Lewis finally gets fired.  If any team seems headed for a complete makeover, it’s the Bengals.

AFC South

Houston                                   8-11
Is this the year?  Does Wade Philips weave some defensive coordinator magic?  Is it even possible to allow a 100.5 passer rating two years in a row as a defense?  In 2009, the defense allowed an 83.2 passer rating.  If Philips can find that unit, this team will win its first division title.

Indianapolis                             8-10
Peyton Manning’s vague injury clouds what will happen to the organization this year.  Is their regular season run finally hitting the wall?  I know Bill Polian gets a lot of props, but they have had some serious management question marks over the past three seasons and look thin and undertalented in numerous areas.  Manning is the ultimate deodorant for poor GM work and I wonder if we will finally see how talented a team Indianapolis really is without Manning under center.

Tennessee                               6-9
Tennessee’s season will be determined by how quickly they realize they are going nowhere with Hasselbeck and plan for next year throwing Locker to the wolves.  I have no doubt Hasselbeck can squeak out 8 or 9 wins under the right circumstances, but that still doesn’t do anything for the organization (nor likely make the playoffs).

Jacksonville                             6-8
Similar to Tennessee the final season record will have more to do with when they stop “trying” with Gerrard for the sake of getting experience for Gabbert.  That will have as much to do with mid-season record, how Indy and Houston are doing and how the starters perform than any prediction I can make about their off-season or roster.

AFC West

San Diego                                11-13
San Diego is too good on both sides of the ball not to have a huge bounce back season and soundly win the NFC West.  This is one of the few teams that have the talent to be a #1 seed (along with New England and Pittsburgh).  All the key statistical indicators point to 2010 being a crazy unlucky season for the Chargers that won’t be duplicated.

Oakland                                   7-9
Despite all the criticism Al Davis gets, his teams always seam loaded with talent, fast and intimidating walking off the bus.  Too bad they don’t have a quarterback I can trust.  While the Raiders were 6th in league scoring last year, they were only 16th in points per possession.  Something’s fishy and a crash back to reality on the offensive side of the ball seems likely.  Expect another .500 season.

Kansas City                              6-8
The Chiefs went 2-4 in its division and still squeaked out the title.  And unlike last year, their out-of-division schedule is murder (playing the AFC East and NFC Central).  No way this team is even in the picture after @Patriots-Steelers-@Bears-@Jets-Packers in Nov./Dec.  Say goodnight.

Denver                                    3-7
As with many bad teams, how often they switch quarterbacks and give up on mediocrity can determine everything.  The same applies to Denver, where any hiccup at all by Kyle Orton will cause the fan base to yell for Tim Tebow.  An easy early schedule might buy time for the Fox/Orton marriage to work, or it could backfire with a few bad losses and lead to a disaster season.

NFC East

Philadelphia                            9-12
The darling of the business season, the Eagles are loaded with a mishmash of talent.  The more relevant questions remain how major changes at offensive line, defensive coordinator and who wears the “green dot” on defense affect this team long-term.  In no way to I see this team as a lock for anything.  Not in the crazy NFC East.

Dallas                                      8-11
Like San Diego, there is too much talent on this team and too many statistical indicators of success not to expect a bounce back season.  I like the combination of Garrett/Romo steadying the offense and Rob Ryan improving the defense.  I  strongly think this team will be in the mix for a playoff spot until the end.

New York Giants                     8-10
No team oozes “above average” more than the Giants.  Every year they seem the same with a couple good or bad plays from Eli Manning determining their fate.  And every year they seem involved with some weird “what if” game that could have changed history.

Washington                             6-8
While the Redskins clearly have the worst QB in this division, Shanahan still could pull a rabbit out of his hat and come up with an 85+ rating for the team.  The problem isn’t the offense, it’s the defense where I am not at all sold on Haslett as a coordinator, the new 3-4 system, or see improvement in their woeful 90.0 QB rating allowed.

NFC South

New Orleans                           11-14
I really like how under-the-radar New Orleans has been this off-season.  While Atlanta seems to be “going all in”, the Saints are improving the foundation blocks of the team long term.  There are no chance injuries at running back that will derail this team like 2010 and almost every aspect of the team seems poised to improve.  I think the opening night game vs. Green Bay will be talked about come December as deciding the #1 seed in the NFC.

Atlanta                                    9-10
There is growing pressure internally (based on their aggressive offseason) to take the next step, but I’m just not convinced the talent level is there; particularly on the defensive side of the ball.  Unless Julio Jones is the next Randy Moss style rookie sensation I still see a conservative offense and average defense that lacks explosive plays on both sides of the ball.

Tampa Bay                              7-9
Tampa Bay had a perfect storm of success in 2010.  And on many levels, I like the upside of their top-end talent better than Atlanta.  But this is a young team that will be hard pressed to catch the same magic they did in last year.  Josh Freeman is a favorite of mine (I like him better than Matt Ryan), but a small step back might be what this team needs most.

Carolina                                  3-5
There has been a lot of hope among Panther fans for a solid running game, good defense and a Roethlisberger-type rookie season from Cam Newton, but that’s a pipe dream.  This team lacks playmakers everywhere and the defense is below average.  All signs point to a struggling season for rookie head coach Ron Rivera in perhaps one of the toughest divisions in football.

NFC North

Green Bay                               12-14
There hasn’t been a team more poised to repeat since New England in 2004.  Green Bay is stacked with talent and has a premier, playoff tested quarterback in Aaron Rogers.  I see little to no weaknesses on the roster.  Only injuries will derail a deep playoff run for this team in my opinion.

Minnesota                               6-9
The Vikings pin their hopes on another aging quarterback, this time Donovan McNabb.  I do think this is McNabb’s best fit and see the potential for a very average to good offense this season.  If the aging defense can hold it together up front and on the back end, sneaking into playoff contention might not be impossible.

Chicago                                   7-8
As much as indicators tell us to expect bounce back seasons from Dallas and San Diego, all signs point to Chicago taking a big step back and missing the playoffs.  This team has a history of not maintaining their flashes in great defense and I suspect a drop off in 2011.  If that happens, I don’t see an offense capable of making up the difference.

Detroit                                     6-8
The Lions ended the 2010 season with four straight wins and spawned growing optimism for this upcoming season.  But this is still mostly the same team that was 2-10 on December 5th.  How much can a healthy Matt Stafford help a 26th ranking YPA passing attack?  Or a 20th ranking YPC rushing attack?  Detroit continues to make strides, but the metrics say they still have a long way to go before becoming a playoff caliber team.

NFC West

Arizona                                    8-10
Even an average season from Kevin Kolb should stabilize this team enough to reach .500 this year.  The Cardinals remain a well coached team with a decent roster that plays the most physical of any NFC West franchise.  While their ideal peak season might not be as high as the Rams, they are the safer bet to retake the division title in my opinion.

St. Louis                                   7-10
St. Louis is the media darling, underdog selection of the 2011 season.  Many pundits are citing the growing maturation of Sam Bradford as the reason the Rams soon separate themselves from their opponents in the NFC West.  But I still see more holes and inexperience than on the Cardinals and think this division will once again go down to the wire.

Seattle                                     5-8
Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst have combined for 178 passes thrown in the NFL with a 65.0 passer rating since the end of 2008.  To try and guess how the next 550 throws Seattle attempts will work out (and by whom) is a crap shoot.  Pete Carroll has gutted this roster in two seasons but whether it’s for the better is completely up in the air.

San Francisco                          4-7
Another team in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes in my opinion, the 49er’s decision to stand pat with Alex Smith lends itself to a rather conservative prediction of the “same” heading into 2011.  As a fan of Jim Harbaugh I could see a surprising run to a .500 record but could also see Smith booed off the field and growing pains for the new coach.

Playoff Predictions:

Wildcard Weekend
San Diego (#3) over Indianapolis (#6)    30 - 23
New York Jets (#5) over Houston (#4)   19 - 17

Philadelphia (#3) over Atlanta (#6)   23 - 22
Dallas (#5) over Arizona (#4)   27 - 24

Divisional Weekend
New England (#1) over New York Jets (#5)   27 - 23
San Diego (#3) over Pittsburgh (#2)   24 - 21

Green Bay (#1) over Dallas (#5)   34 - 17
New Orleans (#2) over Philadelphia (#3)    31 - 14

Conference Championships
New England (#1) over San Diego (#3)   31 - 24
Green Bay (#1) over New Orleans (#2)   30 - 20

Super Bowl 46

Green Bay (NFC) over New England (AFC)    33-28

Friday, August 19, 2011

The NFL Salary Cap System 101

The NFL Salary Cap System 101

What is the salary cap?

The NFL Salary Cap is quite simply an accounting method for recording player salaries that is distinct and different than cash accounting. 

It is very important to understand that what makes the NFL system very different from other professional salary caps is that every dollar spent on players salaries MUST eventually be accounted for in the salary cap system (i.e. there is no buy-out or way to circumvent the amounts spent).

This is the Golden Rule:  Every dollar given to a player will eventually get to the salary cap!

In general, the portion of a player’s salary that is subject to accounting differences is something called a “signing bonus”, which is normally a lump sum payment to a player at the time the contract is signed or at other specific times during the deal (sometimes signing bonuses are split over two or more seasons).

The signing bonus is distinct from other types of salary an NFL player gets from ownership.  We must understand each of the basic types as follows because to understand the salary cap we must understand cash flow.

1.  Annual Salary (or Base Salary)
Each NFL player must have a minimum base salary.  This salary is paid out in 17 equal pay checks, each week, during the NFL season (including the bye week).  For young players (those with 3 years or less in service), annual salary is NOT guaranteed at any time.  So a 2-year veteran that is released after week 10, would only receive (in cash), 10/17th of his base salary.  After week 10, he receives nothing.  For a veteran player (4+ years of service), their annual salary is guaranteed the minute they make the opening 53-man roster (they would continue to get a weekly paycheck, even if released during the year).  Note if a veteran player is signed after week 1, then their salary is NOT guaranteed and really becomes a week-to-week pay as you go salary.

2.  Roster Bonus or Workout Bonus
I lump these type of bonuses together because both CAN NOT be amortized (I’ll get to that more later).  These lump sum payments occur between March and the start of the season and can be triggered for any reason agreed to by the parties.  Most roster bonuses trigger before free agency on the league calendar to force a team to make a cash decision on the player as soon in the league year as possible.  For accounting purposes, Roster and Workout Bonuses CAN NOT be amortized on the salary cap books.

3.  Signing Bonus
As stated above, a signing bonus is a lump sum payment either at the time of signing or elsewhere that CAN be amortized for the purpose of salary cap accounting.  The mathematics behind how to apply signing bonuses to the salary cap books is really the heart and soul of understanding the NFL salary cap.

4.  Performance Bonus
For the purpose of understanding the basics of the salary cap, we don’t need to dwell on performance based bonuses.  In general, on a year-to-year basis, a performance based bonus is either considered likely to be earned (and thus projected on the salary cap books like roster bonus) or not likely to be earned (not projected anywhere in the salary cap books at all).  If what you “guessed” at the beginning of the year (likely or unlikely) changes, a team must make adjustment to their salary cap accounting the following year (by either adding or subtracting money to their overall salary cap).  There is no amortization of performance bonuses.  Performance bonuses are paid AFTER the season (in the window between the Super Bowl and the end of the league year).

Remember, once a contract is signed, it is more a matter of following the CASH and knowing how to get the cash onto the salary cap books that is most important to understanding the salary cap.

Let’s look at the simple parts of a typical NFL contract:

Here is how Alan Faneca’s contract looked when he signed as a free agent with the New York Jets in 2008:

Base Salary = $1.0M
Signing Bonus = $4.2M
Roster Bonus = $3.8M

Base Salary = $7.0M
Roster Bonus = $250k

Base Salary = $7.5M

Base Salary = $8.0M

Base Salary = $8.25M

This contract is a fairly typical 5-year, $40 million deal.  From the perspective of cash, this contract pays Faneca $9 million in 2008, then $7.25M, $7.5M, $8M and $8.25M.  If cash and salary cap accounting were the same, this is what the salary cap values would also be.  But that is not the case.

As stated above, the $4.2M signing bonus can be amortized for up to FIVE YEARS over each year of the contract.  So for salary cap accounting, that $4.2M is divided by 5 years and allocated on the salary cap books as $840k/year.

Therefore the projected salary cap charges for Faneca are:  $5.64M, $8.09M, $8.34M, $8.84M and $9.09M respectively from 2008 to 2013.

Please note (important!) that the TOTALS of both cash accounting and salary cap accounting equal $40M million!

Let’s show another example:

Dunta Robinson signed a 6-year, $57 million contract in 2010 with the Atlanta Falcons.  His contract is structured as follows:

Base Salary = $5.0M
Roster Bonus = $7.0M

Base Salary = $5.5M
Signing Bonus = $5.00M

Base Salary = $6.0M
Signing Bonus = $3.0M

Base Salary = $7.0M

Base Salary = 9.0M

Base Salary = $9.5M

Again, the values above that can be amortized are the signing bonus in 2011 ($5 million) over the remaining 5 years of the contract AND the signing bonus in 2012 ($3 million) over the remaining 4 years of the contract.

The $5 million gets applied as a $1 million salary cap charge from 2011 to 2015, while the $3 million get split up as $750k each year from 2012 to 2015.

So here is cash vs. salary cap accounting of the Dunta Robinson contract:

2010:  $12M cash, $12M salary cap
2011:  $10.5M cash, $6.5M salary cap
2012:  $9M cash, $7.75M salary cap
2013:  $7M cash, $8.75M salary cap
2014:  $9M cash, $10.75M salary cap
2015:  $9.5M cash, $11.25M salary cap

Once again, the important realization is that both cash AND cap will equal the same $57 million value if and only if the contract is completed.  There are no tricks to avoid this.

If you have followed along to this point, we are now ready to expand what we know into situations that arise during contracts.  As always, the key to remember is cash HAS TO eventually equal cap.

Contract Termination

One of the most common things to happen in the NFL is a players release during a contract.  This happens to dozens of players each off-season and can happen any time from the beginning of the league year up to deciding the team’s final 53-man roster (and even during the season).

When a player is released (or traded), the difference between that players’ CASH accounting and SALARY CAP accounting must be realized.  If any signing bonus was amortized at all there will be a difference.  This difference is often called “dead money”.

How “dead money” is applied to the salary cap books can be a bit complex, but understand teams HAVE to even out the difference over a maximum TWO-YEAR window on the books.  In the first year (the year of release), a team can short-change the amount down to the previously amortized signing bonus amount, with the remainder on the 2nd year salary cap books.  But teams can also choose to apply ALL of the dead money that first year.  This decision really depends on what is best for the clubs and their books.

For example, let’s look at Sean Mahan, the center signed by Pittsburgh in 2007 for 5-years, $17M contract.  Mahan’s contract was simple:

2007:  Base Salary = $650k, Signing Bonus = $4M
2008:  Base Salary = $2.175M
2009:  Base Salary = $3.175M
2010:  Base Salary = $3.5M
2011:  Base Salary = $3.5M

Mahan earned $4.65M in pay during 2007 from the Steelers, but his salary cap charge was only $1.45M (the $4M signing bonus was amortized into five 800k parts).

When Sean Mahan was traded in August of 2008 back to Tampa Bay, a correction to the salary cap books HAS to take place because Mahan’s CASH expense to date was $4.65M while his salary cap allocation to date was only $1.45M.  There is a $3.2M difference that becomes “dead money” for the Steelers to account for.  The rules also state, this “dead money” must be taken care of in the next two fiscal years.

The Steelers choose to account for $800k on their 2008 salary cap books (which is 1/5th of Mahan’s signing bonus) and the remaining $2.4M onto their 2009 books.  Note the Steelers could have chosen anything from $800k up to all $3.2M that first year, but selected the minimum amount due to other salary cap issues.

Again, when looking back in history at Sean Mahan alone, we see a CASH accounting of $4.65M all in 2007 but a salary cap accounting of $1.45M, $800k and $2.4M over a 3-year historic window.  There were no “tricks” to get out of the golden rule.  The money the Steelers paid Mahan did eventually get onto the Steelers salary cap books at some point.  It is just a matter of when.

Contract Renegotiation

When a player renegotiates with a team mid-way through a contract, what is effectively happening is the OLD contract is ripped up and a NEW contract is signed, but the previous allocations of signing bonuses stay in place.

Renegotiations fall into three categories (and using the correct vocabulary term will help your understanding of what is happening):

Restructuring is when a team agrees to pay the player the exact same amount of money for a season but changes how that money is paid for amortization purposes.  This means turning a high base salary into a combination of signing bonus and lower base salary (remember, every player has to have a minimum base salary based on his years of service).

Extensions are when the new contract adds years to the contract.  This is most often (not always) is associated with a pay raise and agreement with a player well liked in the organization.  The media likes to discuss “new money”, but I strongly encourage you to realize an extension is actually a NEW contract and the old contract is in fact ripped up.  All that remains from the previous contract is the amortized values of previous signing bonuses.

Renegotiations, although a catch-all phrase, really means among NFL executives a new contract that changes the scheduled compensation to the player for that year.  Renegotiations can go up but often are used to lower player salaries instead of releasing that player.

There is no simple way to show renegotiations without examples.  The math is still the same, but you often start dealing with multiple signing bonuses and their amortized values.  Remember that a signing bonus can only be amortized over a maximum 5 year period.

In some cases veteran players go through MANY renegotiations during their career.  Renegotiations happen for the following main reasons:

1.  To give a raise or lock up a player to a long term contract BEFORE the player becomes a free agent.  This is common as the player gets his deal (and signing bonus) often a year or more earlier, avoids risk of injury and in return might give the team a slight discount than what he would gain negotiating with multiple teams.

2.  To renegotiate a lower base salary for a player if he is not performing up the level of his projected salary and is likely headed for release/trade.

3.  To make short-term salary cap room by converting BASE SALARY into SIGNING BONUS, thus making salary that was previously unamortorized into an amortized amount over the remaining years of the contract.  This often does NOT include adding years onto the contract, but can be combined with reason #1 or #2 if necessary.

Let’s look at some simple examples:

In spring of 2009, Hines Ward was entering the last year of his 2005, 5-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Ward was scheduled to make $5.8M dollars as base salary and have a salary cap amount of $8.133M due to previous amortized signing bonuses ($5M/5 years from 2005 and $4M/4 years from 2006) and a surprise performance bonus ($333k related to the 2008 Super Bowl).

The Steelers renegotiated Hines Wards deal as follows:

2009:     Base Salary = $2.75M, Signing Bonus = $3.05M
2010:     Base Salary = $4M
2011:     Base Salary = $3M, Roster Bonus = $1M
2012:     Base Salary = $4M
2013:     Base Salary = $4M

The key to deducing what Hines Ward’s new salary cap values are is to realize we still need to carry the previously amortized amounts from his last contract in 2009.

It is the 2009 salary cap value that is tricky.  His previous signing bonuses in 2005 and 2006 each amortized to $1M/season, so that adds $2M onto Ward’s 2009 salary cap charge.  His NEW signing bonus of $3.05M, which gets equally divided from years 2009 to 2013, will add $610k.  His new base salary is $2.75M.  And we need an adjustment to carry the $333k Ward was paid as a surprise performance bonus in 2008.

So Hines Ward’s new 2009 salary cap charge is:  $2.75M (BS) + $1.0M (SB ’05) + $1.0M (SB ‘06) + $610k (SB ‘09) + 333k (Performance Bonus) = $5.693M.

Once we get past 2009, the money paid Hines Ward as signing bonuses in 2005 and 2006 will now be “off the books” and his salary cap charge becomes just his base salary plus the amortized signing bonus of 2009 ($610k per year).  So Ward’s 2010 cap charge is simply $4M + $610k = $4.61M.

Remember, you cannot “refinance” how to amortize a signing bonus.  You can’t continue to split it into smaller and smaller pieces over longer time frames.  Even when you renegotiate a contract how a signing bonus was previously amortized remains on the salary cap books as originally planned.

One last note; Hines Ward neither received a pay raise nor pay cut with the above renegotiation.  His 2009 take-home pay remained identical at $5.8M.  Only the structure of the money changed (turning base salary into a signing bonus).

The fact Ward’s take-home pay didn’t change leads us to another common use of renegotiation to try and make salary cap room.  An example of this occurred with Ike Taylor in 2008.

Ike Taylor signed a long term, 5-year deal with the Steelers in 2006 after his rookie contract.  Heading into the 2008 off-season, Ike Taylor was on the salary cap books as follows for the remaining three years of his contract (consider this a snap shot in time):

2008:  $4.09M Base Salary, $300k Roster Bonus, $1.35M Signing Bonus Allocation = $5.74M CAP
2009:  $3.5M Base Salary, $250k Roster Bonus, $1.35M Signing Bonus Allocation = $5.1M CAP
2010:  $3.5M Base Salary, $250k Roster Bonus, $1.35M Signing Bonus Allocation = $5.1M CAP

In spring of 2008, the Steelers organization needed salary cap room for other uses, therefore they renegotiated Ike Taylor’s contract by converting his 2008 base salary of $4.09M into a base salary of $1.09M and a new signing bonus of $3M.  This $3M signing bonus was allowed to then be amortized over the remaining three years of the contract.  No other changes to the deal were made.

Let’s look at the effect this renegotiation had on Ike Taylor’s projected salary cap charges:

2009:  $1.09M Base Salary, $300k Roster Bonus, $2.35M Signing Bonus Allocation = $3.74M CAP
2010:  $3.5M Base Salary, $250k Roster Bonus, $2.35M Signing Bonus Allocation = $6.1M CAP
2011:  $3.5M Base Salary, $250k Roster Bonus, $2.35M Signing Bonus Allocation = $6.1M CAP

This is a very simple example of how a team can push forward some salary cap dollars into future years.  There are risks associated to the team when doing this however because Ike Taylor becomes much more difficult to release or trade at the tail end of a contract.  There is additional liability in potential “dead money” now in both 2010 and 2011.


The examples above, if you can follow the mathematics, explain about 99% of all current contracts in the NFL.   There are a few more “advanced topics” if you are interest I will explain with some questions and answers:

1.  I often hear about “guaranteed” money when a contract is signed.  What is this and does it affect the salary cap?

A:  In recent contracts it has become more common for teams to guarantee payment of either roster bonuses, base salaries or both after the first year of the contract.  If and when a player is released PRIOR to these guarantees, then yes this can affect the salary cap books.  Consider some of these guarantees as severance packages.  And since this is cash spent, all severance payments have to find their way to the salary cap books eventually.

2.  Can you explain performance bonuses in any more detail?

A:  Sure.  Like I stated above performance bonuses get labeled “Likely to be Earned” (LTBE for short) or “Unlikely to be Earned” (UTBE).  How and who decides this is a bit fuzzy, but the league office is involved and scrutinizes teams on their assumed choice.  For year-to-year salary cap analysis, LTBE bonuses are simply treated as additional base salary and are applied to the current salary cap.  What gets interesting is when a LTBE bonus isn’t met.  Because the team carried that LTBE value on their salary cap books for the previous year, the team gets a salary cap “credit” the following year.  This credit is applied (get this) as an increase in the team’s allowable salary cap!

Effectively, what teams can do is take extra salary cap room from one season and bank it for use in future years.  New England and Philadelphia are famous in salary cap circles for doing this.

The easiest example I can give on how to do this would be if a team is interested in promoting a backup player into a starting role and signs them to a new, expensive, long-term contract.  Since many backup players participate in special teams, a team could create a large performance bonus based on special teams participation (either total snaps or % of snaps).  Since this former backup player reached these special teams milestone the previous season(s), it can be considered LTBE.  But if that team fully knows that player will NOT participate in special teams after his promotion to a starter, that performance bonus will never get paid (and all the parties know this).

Thus in year one of that players new contract, this huge LTBE bonus (and it can be any fictitious amount) is carried on the teams salary cap books but when it is fact the bonus was never paid (after the season), this LTBE bonus becomes a credit to the next year’s salary cap.

In the case of UTBE bonuses, there are no tricks like this.

3.  Are Signing Bonuses always amortized equally over the contract?

A:  As far as I can tell yes, but there is no rule I see that says it’s a requirement.  I believe a signing bonus can be amortized to “front-load” the value, but I have never seen an example of that done by any team.  I know for sure you cannot “back-load” a signing bonus.  Also note, the maximum number of years a signing bonus can be amortized is five years, even if the contract is longer than that.

4.  Does June 1st mean anything?

A:  Not really.  In the old days, June 1st was a demarcation line that changed the way teams could spread out dead money over the following two seasons.  But that date has effectively been removed with exemptions.

5.  Is there a method on how/when teams have to be in compliance with the salary cap?

A:  Yes.  The NFL financial year starts on March 1st (this is officially the day a new season starts for NFL teams).  Between March 1st and the start of the regular season, teams only count their highest projected 51 players against the salary cap (this is often called the Rule of 51).  This obviously allows teams to have the 80-90 roster players during OTA’s and training camp without worrying about all their salaries.  A few days before the actual season starts (the week after Labor Day), teams decide on their 53-man rosters.  At this point, all 53 players now count on the salary cap books.  Teams have to leave room for practice squad week-to-week salaries and also room for replacement players if anyone gets injured.  During the season, to be salary cap compliant all these minor changes to your 53-man roster have to be under the current salary cap for the league year.

6.  Do injured players count on the salary cap?

A:  Yes.  If a player is placed on Injured Reserve, his full salary becomes guaranteed and that salary remains on the salary cap accounting books.  If a player is released due to injury, often an “injury settlement” takes place.  Again, this is similar to a severance package and those payments must be accounted for on the salary cap books (almost always in the current year).