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Sam Bradford contract details show big money up front, protection from injury

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The Arizona Cardinals paid the price to have a good quarterback, but also are heavily protected if Bradford gets hurt.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals-Sam Bradford The Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

After much hand wringing, scoffing and general disbelief in the fact the Arizona Cardinals gave Sam Bradford a “$20 million contract” the details on the contract are out.

The Cardinals gave Bradford a $10 million signing bonus, and have him at a base salary of $5 million. Both are palatable as we have discussed in a couple of places: here and here.

The reality of the contract is that for Bradford to make any money at all outside of the $10 million guaranteed over the next two years, he will have to play in games.

The Cardinals have Bradford signed to a $312,500 per game contract. For Bradford to hit the $20 million mark, he has to play in all 16 games this year.

If that happens, it will mark only the third time in his career and the first since 2012, when Bradford was in his third NFL season.

What the Cardinals did with this salary is acknowledge that Bradford is a talented passer, but guarantee that they won’t be paying him unless he is on the field.

They set up this contract to really benefit them in 2018, from our own cap expert Gungus:

But why is there only $625k of the potential $5M gameday roster bonuses accounted for in the ‘18 cap? Because teams don’t have to carry the full amount on the cap. They used last years number of games played to project this years gameday roster bonuses. Since Bradford only played 2 games last year, only 2 games worth of gameday roster bonuses need to be applied to this years cap, hence the $625k.

But what happens if he plays more than 2 games? Where does that money get accounted for? The answer is next year. If Bradford plays in 16 games this year, an additional $4.375M will be added to next year’s cap number bringing his ’19 cap to $29.375M. They would be able to release him before next year for a $9.375M dead money cap hit in that case.