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Carson Palmer contract: Potential salary cap implications

What will the cap hit look like this year and next?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

We know the news of the Carson Palmer contract extension. It is for three years and a reported $50 million total. The real importance is that it is $20.5 million in guaranteed money through next season. Nothing is guaranteed beyond that.

What does that mean? currently shows Palmer's salary cap hit being $16.7 million for three seasons, starting next year. However, don't use that as a real gauge. The specific contract numbers have not come out yet, so they are simply using the three-year average to figure the cap hit.

Getting the extension done this year is very smart for the Cardinals because it allows the team to spread the salary cap hit over four seasons.

For the salary cap, the signing bonus a player gives a team affects the salary cap over time. Paying him the money now means they spread that hit over four years, rather than just three. With the Cardinals currently $11.1 million under the cap currently, according to the NFLPA website, they could easily absorb some salary cap space this season.

That $20.5 million in guaranteed does not mean his salary will be that amount for 2015.

Think of it this way:

Jason Fitzgerald of speculates the signing bonus for Palmer will be about $10 million. I tend to agree.

A $10 million signing bonus would put a $2.5 million cap hit on this season, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

That leaves $10.5 million in money he would get in 2015 -- a combination of salary, roster bonus and workout bonus.

That would make his 2015 cap hit $13 million, which isn't unreasonable for a very good starting quarterback.

If the signing bonus is $12 million, that changes the numbers slightly. The built-in cap hit per year through 2017 would be $3 million. He would get $8.5 million in 2015 money, making his cap hit for next season $11.5. Again, that is a reasonable number.

Of course, the team is looking at a little bit of salary cap mess for next year, but they will deal with contracts like Larry Fitzgerald's (with his $23 million cap hit), Darnell Dockett's ($9.8 million hit) and perhaps Calais Campbell's ($14.75 million hit in 2015).

Moving on from Palmer doesn't mean the Cardinals go without salary cap implications after 2015.

A $10 million signing bonus means Arizona would absorb $5 million in dead money against the 2016 cap. If the bonus is $12 million, the dead money goes up to $6 million.

What if the Cardinals keep Palmer beyond 2015? How does that look in terms of salary?

There would be $29.5 million left for the final two years, an average of just under $15 million for each season. Assuming a simple split would be $14.75 million per year in those final two years. The cap hit, including the signing bonus hit, would be in the $17 million range per season.

What do you think of the potential contract numbers? Are they paying Palmer too much?