The Arizona Cardinals have been signing players to incentive-laden deals. That works for now, while the Cardinals are a destination team where players want to play. They have a chance at the Super Bowl again this season.
The contract of guard Evan Mathis was for $6 million. But it is actually up to $6 million. His base salary is much lower. In fact, he tweeted a picture of his contract. His base salary is just over $1 million -- $1,000,069. He thinks it is funny. 69 is a funny number, but it is also his jersey number.
March 17, 2016
Here is the rest of the breakdown. He got a $2 million signing bonus. He gets $62,500 for every game he is active ($1 million). The final $2 million is based on Pro Bowl, All-Pro 1st team and such.
Running back Chris Johnson's contract is, according to Ian Rapoport, a one-year deal worth up to $3 million. He reportedly turned down double that to come back to the Cardinals.
While the numbers have not been seen specifically, it is fair to say he will earn a salary of about $1 million with incentives based on yards, Pro Bowl and maybe how far the Cardinals get in the postseason.
It is a tricky way to do contracts. Ultimately they have to have the cap room to pay the bonuses if they reach the escalators. That means they have to leave necessary space. There are still more salary moves to be made, but it is a much less stable way to handle payroll.