The Green Bay Packers would have had to shell out $8 million per year for three years to match the contract that cornerback Bashaud Breeland reportedly agreed upon earlier this year. Those were the terms of the unofficial agreement that Breeland and the Carolina Panthers came to during the so-called “legal tampering” period before the official start of free agency.
Then, Breeland had an incident in the Dominican Republic, a foot injury got infected, and he failed his physical. A $24 million deal vanished in the blink of an eye. Now he is a Green Bay Packer, as the team officially announced his signing on Wednesday.
If Breeland is indeed fully recovered from that infection — and given how conservative the Packers’ medical staff is, that’s a strong likelihood if not a certainty — he’s going to be quite a bargain. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reported on Wednesday that Breeland’s contract is for one year and $790,000, which is the minimum salary in 2018 for a player with four years of NFL experience. Demovsky added that the deal also includes a $90,000 bonus, which is paid out in three equal parts over the course of the regular season. Since three games are already gone, Breeland will earn 13/16 of that base salary and the full bonus, which comes out to $731,875.
Less than three-quarters of a million bucks for a starting-caliber cornerback who drew more than ten times that on the open market? Well done, Brian Gutekunst and Russ Ball. But wait — there’s more.
Breeland’s deal would actually cost the Packers even less against the salary cap. This is thanks to the NFL’s veteran minimum salary benefit rule, which incentivizes NFL teams to sign veteran players with four or more years of experience.
Essentially, the rule says that if a veteran player signs a one-year contract for the veteran minimum base salary (which varies based on experience level) and that deal has no more than $90,000 in bonus money, the contract’s cap hit is reduced. In any of these situations, the number drops to the minimum salary for a two-year veteran, which in 2018 is $630,000. Again, since the contract comes part-way into the season, it is prorated to reflect the number of games remaining, so cut that down by 3/16ths to a final number of $511,875.
Head coach Mike McCarthy sounded thrilled about Breeland’s arrival in his Wednesday press conference. “He gives us experience,” McCarthy said, adding “I’m always interested in the ball skills of the defensive backs, and obviously he has that.” Indeed, Breeland recorded nine interceptions and 59 pass breakups in four years, adding seven forced fumbles as well.
In what was perhaps a veiled shot at Ted Thompson and his unwillingness to look for veteran assistance for most of his tenure, McCarthy expanded when asked about some of the issues the team has had at cornerback in the past. “You can never have enough of any position and definitely the cornerback position has been a challenge for us,” he said. “We’ve struggled with depth the last few years, so the fact that we were able to bring in a veteran with experience is outstanding.”
What is also outstanding is that the Packers were able to get him in the building cheaply, both in terms of cash and salary cap impact.