A Financial Look at the Marcell Dareus Trade

by Mike Ginnitti, Spotrac.com

The Bills and DT Marcell Dareus have seemingly been on the path to divorce for months now. That came to fruition Friday evening when Buffalo sent their 2011 #3 overall selection to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a conditional 6th round draft pick in 2018 (it improves to a 5th round pick if the Jaguars make the playoffs).
Trades for players of this magnitude come with plenty of numbers in both directions, so we’ll take a quick look at the financial implications for each team.

What Stays With the Bills

There are two types of dead cap in play here: Paid Salary, & unallocated bonus money.
Dareus held a $9.75M salary with the Bills in 2017. With 7 weeks played, they keep the $4,014,706 already paid on their cap for the rest of the season.

The unallocated bonus money comes from two places, a $25M signing bonus, and a $7M option bonus. The cap for the signing bonus splits across 5 seasons (2015 – 2019) at $5M per year. The cap for the option bonus splits across 5 seasons (2016-2020) at 1.4M per year.

Because this trade happened after June 1st, the dead cap for a transaction splits over 2 seasons, with any 2017 allocations staying in 2017, and any future allocations all accelerating into 2018. For Dareus this means the following:

What Do the Bills Save

Based on the dead cap figures shown above, the Bills were able to clear $5,735,294 in cap for 2017, and another $2.375M in 2018. So while the dead cap hits are large, there’s still a silver lining in terms of the business side to the deal.

What the Jaguars Acquire

The Jaguars essentially acquire Dareus on a 5 1/2 year, $56.74M contract, including cap figures of $5.7M, $10.175M, $11.585M, $14.6M, & $14.65M through 2021.

But with the Bills taking on nearly all of the future dead cap, very little risk remains on this contract going forward. Should they want, Jacksonville can release Dareus early next March, taking on a $7.35M dead cap hit for the guaranteed 2018 salary. After 2018, $0 in dead cap remains, making him a free release.

A Few Final Thoughts

At the time of signing, the previous Bills regime and Dareus were on somewhat better terms both on and off the field, and his production certainly warranted a Top 5 defensive contract. The length and overall value of his 6 year $96M deal wasn’t really an issue – in fact it lined up almost to the dollar with our calculated market value back in early 2015.
The problem however, was the structure. Not only was Dareus awarded a massive $25M signing bonus, but another $7M option bonus kicked in the following season. Add on to that the scenario where his next year salary became guaranteed in the year prior, and the Bills had absolutely no way to release Dareus in a feasible manner until at LEAST 2019, 4 years into the deal.

Trading Marcell was the Bills only out, and they did very well to find a team in Jacksonville with a similar scenario to their own – overachieving in the standings, but still unstable in the immediate future in many key areas (including the QB position).

While some may look at the football ceiling of Dareus and question the Bills for bailing on a player of this caliber amidst a 4-2 season, this is simply just another example of new GM Brandon Beane proving he can and will sell when the value is high enough (See: Sammy Watkins). The business side to the game almost always wins out.

Kevin Sylvester

Kevin Sylvester has over 20 years of experience in media, working for stations, professional sports teams, leagues, and national broadcast entities. This experience includes being an announcer for NHL, NBA, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, NCAA Hockey, and The PGA Tour. Kevin also served as the producer for the Buffalo Sabres post-game show, executive producer for a Sabres radio show, and started his own media production company, All Square Media LLC in 2008. All Square Media serves as the executive producer of the Tee 2 Green TV and Radio shows (created by Kevin), handling distribution, sponsorship sales, fulfillment, and production of the shows.

Kevin's business background extends beyond broadcasting. He served as the Director of Amateur Athletics for WNY Arena LLC (Key Bank Center in Buffalo), procuring major amateur sporting events for Buffalo, NY. The major highlights include two sold out NCAA Tournaments First and Second Rounds (2007, 2010), and the 2011 IIHF U20 World Championships (Kevin co-wrote the winning bid, and served on the organizing committee for USA Hockey). Kevin created The Duster Challenge in 2016, a local 18 hole putting competition, and serves as an advisor to WNY golf ball company, OnCore Golf.

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