Everyone remembers exactly where they were when they first heard of the numbers from Sam Baker's contract. There were many gasps. Loved ones were held. Bomb shelters were stocked with water and rations.
Life on Earth briefly stopped today after Zach Klein of Atlanta's WSB reported Sam Baker's six-year deal was for… well… too much money.
Why Dimitroff? Why have you forsaken me? Did Dimitroff lose his magic touch? Was it ever there to begin with? Why are we here? What are we doing with our lives?
Do not worry, I promise I do not have an existential breakdown after the break. The numbers are better than reported and Sam Baker will not be our Waterloo.
Quickly after Klein reported Baker's numbers from an NFL source, likely Sam Baker's agent, Pat Yasinskas got his ESPN mitts on the details.
It’s a six-year deal worth $41.1 million. Baker got a $10 million signing bonus and his first-year base salary will be $1 million.
Baker’s base salary jumps to $3.25 million in 2014 and the first two years are guaranteed. In 2015, the base salary rises to $4.25 million.
The deal also has $3.9 million in escalators, unknown at this point. Sounds better, right?
At the very least, Sam Baker signed a two-year deal for $14.25 million. Atlanta then has the option to bring back Baker until the end of the contract. The $14.25 in guaranteed money is in line with an average-ish starting left tackle. While I think his true value, based on injury and inconsistency, is more like $4-$5 million a year, the potential for a short term lease on Baker makes this deal feel better.
The signing bonus is prorated over 5 years, the maximum allowed by the CBA. This means that the $10 million guaranteed will apply to each of the first five years of the deal, or $2 million per year. So Baker has a super manageable cap hit this year of $3 million and $5.25 next year.
What if we cut him after two years? Well, cutting him would push the remaining $6 million in signing bonus into 2015. That sounds expensive but he could easily be cut post-June 1st. Cutting Baker after that time splits that $6 million into two years, meaning he would count $3 million in both 2015 and 2016.
Math is not my strong suit but Atlanta can get Baker for $3 million, $5.25 million, $3 million and $3 million against the cap to keep him here the next two years. After year two the Falcons do not owe Baker another dollar if they cut ties with him, meaning if he regressed or struggles with injuries again, Atlanta can wash their hands of him.
I would love nothing more than for Baker to earn every dollar of this contract by staying healthy and playing at the best of his ability but this remains a relatively low-risk deal for the Falcons even if Baker falls apart.