No NFL contract is guarenteed, so yes, it can be terminated. But here's how contracts work.
Lets say Vick signs a 7 year 42 million dollar deal with a 28 million signing bonus (just making up easy numbers) They can set it up so his salaries are 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 million per year... ie 3 in year 1, 4 in year 2, etc. So Vick would get the 28 million bonus upon signing, but that doesn't count toward the cap for the original year, its split up evenly. So the Falcons will actually pay Vick 31 million in the first season (the bonus plus the first year salary) but only 1/7 of the bonus, or 4 million is counted toward their cap number each season. So, for the Falcons, toward their cap, it counts as 7 million the first season. The second season Vick would count 8 million, 4 million in prorated bonus money and 4 million in salary, but he only is physically getting paid 4 million dollars. Make sense? So Vicks money would be as following, 31, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and the Falcons cap number would be as following 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.
Now lets say the Falcons decide to release after season 2. Well, they've paid him 28 mil in bonus and 7 million in salary. What happens to the rest. Well Vick doesn't get a dime of it, he's SOL, out of a job, no more paychecks. So whats the downside you say? That 28 million bonus. The Falcons have only claimed 8 million of it on their cap, for his first 2 years. Next year, they'll be hit with a penalty of 20 million dollars on their cap. Thats right, they IMMEDIATELY have to claim the remaining pro-rated bonus, the whole thing. Thats 20 million that they can't use to sign other players.
So, as a result, some teams would rather pay the man for doing nothing, as it hurts the team less overall than to severely handicap yourself next season with so much of a cap hit. If they keep him a 3rd year for doing nothing, thats $9 million this year instead of $20 on your cap, and if they release him following that season its only a $16 million hit. Yeah, they wasted $5 million in salary, but it hurts the team less in the long run.
NFL salaries are complex, and no other sport really has to do as much finegeling (sp) as the NFL when it comes to their cap. The numbers I used weren't accurate in terms of Vick's actual contract, nor would a contract really be structured in that exact manner, but using whole numbers makes it easiest to explain.
· 1 decade ago