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Packers’ contract with TE Jimmy Graham worth $30 million over 3 years

We have some early details of the Graham deal, and they’re pretty pricey.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers dropped a bomb on the team’s fans as they signed not one but two big-name free agents. The first signing, tight end Jimmy Graham, was almost immediately followed by the other big news of the day: the release of wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

However, it was not until late Tuesday night that we learned the approximate terms of Graham’s deal.

Ian Rapoport reported on NFL Network a few initial details of Graham’s contract: it consists of $30 million total over three years, with $22 million coming in the first two years of the deal. The $10 million average is the same amount that he earned in 2017 with the Seahawks, and is also equivalent to the average on the four-year, $40 million contract extension he signed with the Saints in 2014.

However, keep in mind that the salary cap has increased from $133 million to $177.2 million in the past eight years; that $10 million average as a fraction of the cap in the year in which the contract was signed drops from 7.5% to 5.6%.

Contrast this contract with the one the Packers gave to Martellus Bennett a year ago; that deal was for $21 million in total over three years, with a $6.3 million signing bonus. Of course, the Packers released Bennett during the middle of his first season in Green Bay and the team is still trying to recoup two years worth of that bonus, or $4.2 million, as part of their grievance over an alleged undisclosed injury.

In most of their veterans’ contracts, the Packers tend to have only the signing bonus be guaranteed, spreading that money out and lowering the player’s cap hit in year one. They then often will make the final two years of the contract roughly equal in compensation and cap hit. The team also tends to incorporate significant workout and per-game roster bonuses into these deals, and certainly would do so here.

Without knowing the exact details of how the $30M or $22M are divided up, here’s one possible way the the Packers might have structured this contract (numbers in millions). This estimate assumes a signing bonus of $7.5 million, which is 25% of the total contract value. That value is chosen because the Packers have typically given between 25-30% of contract values as bonuses to veterans in the last several years, and if the bonus were on the higher end, Graham’s agent likely would have been happy to let that detail leak out. However, signing bonus details have not yet been reported.

Jimmy Graham Contract

Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Amortized Bonus Roster Bonus Per-Game Roster Bonuses* Workout Bonus* Cap Hit Cash
Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Amortized Bonus Roster Bonus Per-Game Roster Bonuses* Workout Bonus* Cap Hit Cash
2018 $1.45 $11.00 $3.67 $0.30 $0.25 $5.67 $13.00
2019 $3.45 $3.67 $5.00 $0.30 $0.25 $12.67 $9.00
2020 $7.45 $3.67 $0.30 $0.25 $11.67 $8.00

We will update this post with more details as they are reported.


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