Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Washington Redskins’ $112million payroll projection is based on the NFL Players Association’s calculation method.

The system essentially measures payroll commitments in a given season — not the salary cap impact of those commitments or the actual outflow of cash to players.

For example, quarterback Mark Brunell received a seven-year, $43.36million contract from Washington in early March. He received an $8.6million signing bonus and a first-year salary of $760,000.

For cap purposes, Brunell counts $2.19million because the signing bonus is prorated. Under the NFLPA method of payroll accounting, he counts $9.36million because his signing bonus was committed to be paid in 2004.

In reality, Brunell’s signing bonus will be paid in installments. But those breakdowns aren’t tracked in any meaningful way. The NFLPA’s method has become the best apples-to-apples comparison to show spending differences.

To arrive at $112million, a variety of educated guesses were made, including:

• The makeup of the final 53-man roster. Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, for example, will be cut after June1. He won’t count against Washington’s 2004 payroll and thus doesn’t count for this estimate. Tweaks to the 53-man roster, before and during the season, shouldn’t change the $112million figure too dramatically.

• Draft picks’ contracts. Washington’s four selections won’t sign until this summer, but the system of slotting deals allows for good estimates. An unusual case is safety Sean Taylor, whose projected $14million “signing bonus” could include only about $2million in true signing bonus (the estimate used here) and about $12million in a 2005 option bonus.

NFLPA research director Michael Duberstein said the NFL record for payroll appears to be owned by the 2001 Denver Broncos, who committed about $102million to personnel that season. The record for signing bonus, Duberstein said, is believed to be the 2000 Baltimore Ravens’ $62million.

Washington’s total signing bonus outlay is estimated at about $59million, though that could grow with more signings, a greater percentage of true signing bonus in Taylor’s deal or contract restructurings.

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