Now that the dust has settled on day one of free agency, the details have reportedly come out on the contracts of the Cleveland Browns two newest additions and can be more effectively evaluated. On the surface, Karlos Dansby received 4 years, $24 million with $14 million guaranteed and Donte Whitner received 4 years, $28 million with $15.5 million guaranteed. How the money is structured and the real length of the deal is far more important.
The overall numbers of both deals are mitigated by Ray Farmer and the Browns taking a good amount of the money this year. Whitner will get $11 million this season in all between a $9 million signing bonus and a $2 million base salary. In the second year, Whitner gets a $4.5 million guaranteed salary. The last two years of the deal call for salaries of $6.2 million in 2016 and $6.3 million in 2017, which work as a pair of one year options. The real value of Whitner’s deal is 2 years, $15.5 million.
The contract basically is going to pay Whitner $15.5 million over the first two years with $11 million of that on this year’s salary cap. Going into 2016 and 2017, the Browns can decide if Whitner is worth keeping or if they want to cut bait early on either year, without any remaining guaranteed money owed.
Dansby’s deal is structured similarly. He gets $10 million this year. Next year, Dansby receives $4 million with half of that guaranteed. Then, like with Whitner, the deal has two years of $5 million of salary, which appear to allow the Browns to evaluate and decide if they want to keep him. Dansby has played at a high level throughout his career and was fantastic this past season, but it is difficult to see how the Browns will want to keep him when he is 34 or 35. In the end, Dansby’s contract is more realistically a two year, $14 million deal with a pair of one year options, each worth $5 million.
Ray Farmer and the Browns are taking advantage of their cap flexibility this year and putting $21 million of the $29.5 million they are on the hook for on this year’s cap. The second year is $8.5 million with the option to keep them or cut them starting in the third year. The $8.5 million figure is important because if the Browns wait to evaluate on how or if they negotiate contract extensions for players like Jordan Cameron, Jabaal Sheard, Buster Skrine or Brian Hoyer, they give themselves a lot of room to operate and continue to operate from a healthy cap standpoint.
These deals are pending physicals and the contract details are being reported by ESPN.