The Jacksonville Jaguars spent entirely too much in free agency this year. At least that’s what many around the league and within thought bubbles on social media have stated over the past several weeks.
The Jaguars have spent $175.3M in guaranteed money this offseason, the most in NFL history.— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) April 2, 2022
Christian Kirk ($37M)
Brandon Scherff ($30M)
Foye Oluokun ($28M)
Darious Williams ($18M)
Foley Fatukasi ($20M)
Zay Jones ($14M)
Evan Engram ($8.25M)
h/t @MikeReiss pic.twitter.com/uTqAmp3ZvJ
But, how much exactly have they spent and what are the present and future ramifications of their spending?
First, it’s important to know how the spending works in the first place. In the NFL, the league sets a salary cap by dividing a percentage of revenues determined by the CBA by 32. The players themselves get 48% of the revenue share, which came out to $208.2M for the 2022 offseason, putting the total revenue share for one team at around $433.755M.
The cap typically increases each season but fell in 2021 to $182.5M from $198.2M in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and the financial implications that came along with it.
Teams are then allowed to carry over unused cap space from the previous year. In the Jaguars’ case, they carried over $25,752,355 from 2021, bringing their total team cap space to $233,952,355 for the 2022 season. Team cap space is calculated by adding together the base salary cap with adjustments and carryover from the previous season, if there is any.
Teams are not to exceed their player-allotted salary cap space and all 32 teams were under the cap when the new league year opened on March 14 of this year.
Now that the Jaguars have essentially finalized their 2022 free agency signing period, it’s a good time to review what they spent, how much they still have, and what the future implications of each signing mean for the franchise.
What is a cap hit (number)?
Before we get into what the Jaguars spent and how that all breaks down, it’s important to explain what a cap hit, or number, even is.
We’ve already introduced the total cap space and how that is calculated. A cap-hit is even more specific, indicating how much a player will count against the allotted cap space the team has.
For example, if a team has $100M in cap space and signs a player to a three-year contract worth $30M with no bonuses attached, and a simple $10M base salary every season, the player will have a cap hit of $10M for each year, thus the team will then have $90M left to spend that year.
However, when it becomes more complex is when the player has a signing bonus, which is typical of nearly all NFL contracts. If that same player had a signing bonus of $9M and the contract runs for three years, teams are allowed to prorate, or divide, the signing bonus over the course of the year.
Cap hits take into account the total amount of money that the team will expend that year on the player, including their base salary and any workout or per-game bonuses they might have.
That would allow the team to get flexible when it comes to the first-year cap hit. Since $9M of the player’s typical $10M was paid out as a signing bonus, it could bring the player’s base salary to just $1M for the first year.
The team would then have to apply $3M (1/3 of the signing bonus) to the first year’s salary ($1M), bringing the hit down to just $4M on the year, and effectively saving the team $6M in the first year. The cap hits, of course, would balloon a bit for the remaining two years in order to make up for the rest of the deal owed.
Basically: Prorating a signing bonus is a tool teams use to lower a cap hit in one or more seasons, depending on how they’d like to adjust it during the early parts of a deal.
Below is an example of the contract explained above, utilizing OTC’s contract constructor. You can build your own contracts by clicking here.
How much have the Jaguars spent?
This is perhaps the most often spoken-about topic when discussing the Jaguars, and has been for the better part of a decade due to the team’s constant churning of the rosters year-in-and-year-out. So, of course, it’s the topic we will review first.
The Jaguars began the 2022 league year with the fifth-most cap space with $39,603,306, according to OverTheCap.com, to spend, not accounting for the rookie pool (more on that later).
That number also included the team’s $16.662M investment in left tackle Cam Robinson, who was franchise tagged for a second-straight year.
As of today, the Jaguars have signed nine players, and have had two players come off the books since the start of the new league year either via release or retirement. Linebacker Myles Jack saved the team $8.35M on the cap, while center Brandon Linder’s retirement saved the franchise $9,529,412.
Factoring those savings, along with other adjustments, in with the number the team started when the new league year began, Jacksonville is left with $60,529,723 prior to accounting for the nine players the team signed in free agency, not including the rookie draft pool. Following the signings, Jacksonville is now left with ~$6,710,803 in space, not too far off of OTC’s number at $6,829,964.
So, we will go through the contracts and keep a running table of how much cap space the team had remaining after spending, according to OTC’s estimates.
Below we will break down every contract, including their cap-hit numbers with explanations as to how the math works out.
We might as well start off with the most controversial signing of the offseason in Jacksonville due to the size of his contract. The Jaguars signed Kirk to a reported four-year $72M contract with $37M fully guaranteed at signing including a $20M signing bonus.
Kirk’s Year 1 cap-hit is just $7.5M by virtue of the signing bonus, able to prorate over the entirety of the four-year deal.
His Year 1 base salary is set at $1.5M. Kirk also has a yearly $500,000 per-game roster bonus, along with a yearly $500,000 workout bonus. His signing bonus, prorated, amounts to $5M each year. Add all of those numbers up and you get to his Year 1 hit of $7.5M.
Here are the cap hits for all four years of Kirk’s contract:
- Year 1: $7.5M
- Year 2: $21.5M
- Year 3: $21.5M
- Year 4: $21.5M
Now, Kirk does reportedly have incentives in his deal to bring his full contract value up to $84M, but that is not taken into consideration here.
Thoughts: The Jaguars needed to invest in the receiver position this year. With DJ Chark leaving, and not seriously considered to be retained by the new regime, it made sense for them to seek out a playmaker. Insert Kirk, who has caught 236 passes for 2,902 yards and 17 touchdowns in his career.
Still, the young receiver has never had a 1000-yard season and hasn’t looked as good as some of the other players who have received big paydays at his position. This is a risky investment, but one the team needed to make and if it doesn’t work out, they can get out. Did he warrant the contract based on past results? Absolutely not, but it was what the team felt they needed to do.
Running salary cap space for 2022: $53,029,723
Running guaranteed money total: $37M
The second-largest contract the Jaguars gave out came with Scheff being signed to a three-year $49.5M contract that includes $30M in guaranteed money and a $15M signing bonus.
Just like Kirk, the team opted to prorate his signing bonus through the length of his contract, bringing down his Year 1 cap hit.
His base salary for Year 1 is $1.5M, and he has $1M yearly per-game roster bonuses along with yearly $500,000 workout bonuses. He also has a Pro Bowl bonus added into his deal set at $1M for the first year.
In how OTC calculates per-game roster bonuses, it uses games played from the previous season (11 in Scherff’s case), hence why Scherff’s cap hit of $8,647,059 looks funny.
In reality, the bonus money will not be paid out until the end of the 2022 season when Scherff has played the games. OTC also adds in Scherff’s potential $1M Pro Bowl bonus.
In reality, if Scherff plays all 17 games and gets the Pro Bowl bonus, his cap hit for the 2022 season will be $9M for his first year.
Here are the cap hits for all three years of Scherff’s contract:
- Year 1: $8,647,059 (as calculated by OTC, and can be up to $9M)
- Year 2: $20,000,000
- Year 3: $21,500,000
Thoughts: This was perhaps the team’s smartest move, albeit still a risk. When healthy, Scherff is one of the best guards in the league. Still, he’s played just two full 16-game seasons in his career (first two years) and has missed six, three and five games over the past three years, respectively.
The Jaguars were without both of their starting guards, who left via free agency, so this was absolutely a need they had to address.
Running salary cap space for 2022: $44,382,664
Running guaranteed money total: $67M
The third-largest contract the team handed out by average salary was to Oluokun, who signed a three-year deal worth $45M with $28M guaranteed, along with a $12.5M signing bonus. He also has a year roster bonus of $500,000 and a yearly workout bonus of $500,000.
Again, the Jaguars prorated Oluokun’s signing bonus over the course of his three-year deal, allowing them to have cap hits of $4,166,666 during each season. His base salary for 2021 is also set at $1.5M, and his Year 1 cap hit is $6,666,666 (spooky).
Here are the cap hits for all three years of Oluokun’s deal:
- Year 1: $6,666,666
- Year 2: $19,166,666
- Year 3: $19,166,666
Thoughts: The Jaguars had a plan to move on from Myles Jack and executed it shortly after signing Oluokun to a massive three-year deal. It makes him the fourth highest-paid off-ball LB in the league. After leading the league in tackles and with the rising cap coupled with the look of an ascending player, the pay seems fine.
Oluokun is a smart, reliable defender with plenty of room still to grow, with some speed to match with the top tight ends and running backs in the league. Will it pan out? That remains to be seen, but the investment is sound.
Running salary cap space for 2022: $37,715,998
Running guaranteed money total: $95M
Fatukasi was another long-term deal signed by Jacksonville, giving the big man a three-year deal worth $30M, including $20M in guaranteed money with a $10M signing bonus. The team prorated his signing bonus over the lifetime of his contract, so $3,333,333 for the first two years and $3,333,334 for his final year.
Fatukasi will get $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses each season, along with $500,000 in workout bonuses each year. His Year 1 cap hit is at $5,774,509.
Here are the cap hits for all three years of Fatukasi’s contract:
- Year 1: $5,774,509
- Year 2: $12,833,333
- Year 3: $11,333,334
Thoughts: It’s hard to argue with the Jaguars investing heavily in its defensive line. Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell brings a defense that utilizes a heavy rotation, especially among big men. With Taven Bryan leaving via free agency, it made sense to add to the room. Fatukasi had a better 2020 season than 2021, but brings more power to the front as a fantastic run defender with upside as a pass rusher.
Jacksonville’s investment in him just barely cracked the top 10 on an Average Per Year basis, and makes sense given the cap space the team had to invest in the position.
Running salary cap space for 2022: $31,941,489
Running guaranteed money total: $115M
Williams was a late addition, but still a major signing for Jacksonville from the Los Angeles Rams. He signed a three-year deal worth $30M with $18M in guaranteed money. He had a small signing bonus of $1.5M (prorated at $500,000 each year of his deal) and $500,000 in per-game roster and workout bonuses each season, totaling $3M in bonuses.
His cap hit for Year 1 is set at $6,911,765. Similar to Scherff’s deal, Williams’ per-game roster bonus is set at the number of games played last season, 14. He has an opportunity to earn $7M during the first year of his deal.
Here are the cap hits for all three years of Williams’ contract:
- Year 1: $6,911,765
- Year 2: $12,500,000
- Year 3: $10,500,000
Thoughts: Williams is a hometown player who was born and raised in Jacksonville. He also happens to be one of the more intriguing cornerbacks in the league, who has the ability to play inside and out. After trading CJ Henderson last year and moving Tyson Campbell back outside, the Jaguars had a hole to fill inside at nickel.
Williams will fill that, if need be, and gives the team some depth. With just $18M guaranteed, Willaims’ contract isn’t bad, and he’s actually making less money overall than Henderson will have made if he plays out the length of his contract.
Running salary cap space for 2022: $25,029,724
Running guaranteed money total: $133M
The Jaguars gave Jones a sizable contract for a player that hasn’t had too much production over the course of his career. That amounted to a three-year deal worth $24M, including $14M fully guaranteed. He was given a $5.5M signing bonus which the team prorated over the course of his deal at $1,833,333 each season.
Jones also was given per-game roster and workout bonuses of $1.5M each, amounting to $1,000,000 each season in total. His Year 1 cap hit is at $4,333,333.
Here are the cap hits for all three years of Jones’ contract:
- Year 1: $4,333,333
- Year 2: $9,833,333
- Year 3: $9,833,334
Thoughts: This one was a head-scratcher. While, yes, Jones has some very intriguing intangibles with 4.45 40-yard-dash speed and a nice 36.5-inch vertical, his production over the course of his career leaves plenty to be desired. Even last year with the Las Vegas Raiders, Jones only netted 47 receptions for 546 yards and one touchdown. Most of his production came near the end of the season after the team lost Henry Ruggs III.
Paying him $14M guaranteed over the first two years of his deal could come back to bite the team as he will have to be one of their top three receivers.
Running salary cap space for 2022: $20,696,391
Running guaranteed money total: $147M
Engram fits in last year due to signing just a one-year deal, but he comes in as having the largest Year 1 cap hit of any of the team’s signings as a result of that deal. The team signed Engram to a one-year deal worth $9M with $8.25M guaranteed, including a $3M signing bonus.
Engram’s deal includes a per-game roster bonus of $250,000 and a workout bonus of $500,000.
In reality, if Engram plays all 17 games this year, his cap hit will be set at $9M, but again, OTC calculated his per-game roster bonus based on his 15 games played in 2021, putting his cap hit number in Year 1 at $8,970,588.
Thoughts: The investment into Engram was a smart one. Pederson thrives on big-slot type tight ends as seen in the past with former Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz and current Eagles TE Dallas Goedert. Engram is similar. He is big, fast and physical and will offer QB Trevor Lawrence a safety valve across the middle of the field. On a one-year deal, this was a no-brainer and perhaps one of their most savvy moves.
Running salary cap space for 2022: $11,725,803
Running guaranteed money total: $1155.25M
Though he wasn’t signed to a lengthy nor expensive deal, Key was signed as a role player, who will be assured to make the roster given his guaranteed money this year. He signed a one-year deal worth $4M, including $3M guaranteed. He also could make up to $3M more through incentives for sacks and Pro Bowl nominations.
Key signed with a $1.5M signing bonus and $1M total in per-game roster and workout bonuses. His cap hit is set at $4M.
Thoughts: Key was a bonafide draft bust prior to signing with the San Francisco 49ers last season. After netting just three sacks over his first 47 games with Oakland and LV, he was able to have a career year with the 49ers playing both on the outside and inside of the team’s defense, netting 6.5 sacks.
The investment into Key makes him at least the team’s third or fourth pass rusher this year, and given there wasn’t too much money thrown around, it could be a nice upside-like move similar to that of Engram, albeit with fewer expectations.
Running salary cap space for 2022: $7,725,803
Running guaranteed money total: $158.255M
Crawford was a depth signing that the team made, singing him to a bit more than the league minimum, a one-year $1,015,000 deal. He has a roster bonus of $25,000 and a workout bonus of $25,000. His cap hit is set at $1,015,000.
Thoughts: Not much to say about the former Houston Texans second-round pick. The team needed some depth at the position, though, and by all accounts, Crawford was a sound special teams player with the Chicago Bears last year. It’s fine.
Running salary cap space for 2022: $6,710,803
Running guaranteed money total: $124.25M
What is Dead Cap?
Dead Cap is perhaps the most easily explained concept, yet the one that eludes people the most. Essentially, it is the money still owed on a deal or money that has been pushed into future years. For example, if the Jaguars were to release Kirk right now, they’d have $37M in dead cap this year, salary-cap space that cannot be used, essentially wasted.
They’ve already paid out $20M, and his first and second-year base salaries are guaranteed (totaling $17M). The only money the team wouldn’t be on the hook for - but is expected to be - is his $500,000 per-game roster bonus and $500,000 workout bonus.
Dead Cap is cap space that is already allocated and can only be altered with new or restructured contracts.
Right now, the Jaguars have $23,059,664 in dead cap this year. That includes Joe Schobert (9,937,500), C.J. Henderson ($6,240,432), Myles Jack ($4,800,000), Josh Lambo ($875,000), Carlos Hyde ($450,000), Quincy Williams ($205,545), Collin Johnson ($153,576) and Jalen Camp ($123,219).
That’s how much money the team owed still on those players' contracts when they were either released or traded.
How long are the Jaguars on the hook?
We included “potential outs” in the section above under each player, but it’s important to explain how a team can get to that situation in the first place.
This is where guaranteed money comes in. A franchise will guarantee a certain amount of money to a player, making that team “on the hook” for whatever number is agreed to. Once a player has made his allotted guaranteed money (typically done within the first two-three years of a deal) the team can cut the player for some cap-space relief with very little dead money (relative to savings).
For example, in the case of Kirk, the Jaguars could release him without penalty after two seasons. The team is paying him $37.5M through the first two years of his deal, his full guarantee. The Jaguars essentially guaranteed the second-year base salary of its signees which gives them the opportunity to get out of a deal prior to the full length of it.
The only downside would come in the form of dead money over the remaining two years due to the prorated bonus — $10M in 2024 if he’s released then, or $5M in 2025.
That’s the kicker, really, when prorating a bonus, you’re locking up some cap space in the future for relief in the present, essentially.
So, what do the potential outs look like as far as savings go and when can the franchise exercise that possibility?
- Potential out: Two years
- Money paid: $37.5M
- Cap savings if released (2024): $11,500,000
- Dead cap if released (2024): $10M
- Potential out: Two years
- Money paid (includes bonuses): $30M
- Cap savings if released (2024): $16.5M
- Dead cap if released (2024): $5M
- Potential out: Two years
- Money paid (includes bonuses): $28M
- Cap savings if released (2024): $15M
- Dead cap if released (2024): $4,166,668
- Potential out: Two years
- Money paid (includes bonuses): $20M
- Cap savings if released (2024): $8M
- Dead cap if released (2024): $3,333,334
- Potential out: Two years
- Money paid (includes bonuses): $18M
- Cap savings if released (2024): $10M
- Dead cap if released (2024): $500,000
- Potential out: Two years
- Money paid (includes bonuses): $14M
- Cap savings if released (2024): $8M
- Dead cap if released (2024): $1,833,334
The Jaguars signed Engram to a one-year deal, therefore there is no “out,” however, the team cut him before June 1 and save $5,970,588 this year, but they’d essentially be giving Engram $3M this year for no reason.
The same can be said for Arden Key, except the Jaguars would be doing themselves much more of a disserve if he is to be released before June 1. The team would take on $3M in dead money this year while saving just $1M.
Another one-year deal, except this time with 0 guaranteed money in the contract aside from a workout bonus. If Crawford is on the team long enough to work out, he will get $25,000, but otherwise, the Jaguars can save $1,015,000 by cutting ties.
Our final section revolves around the money the Jaguars - and other teams - will need to allocate in order to sign its rookie class. This number isn’t taken into account when listing the team’s cap space, but will be necessary come June and July when that number is needed to be added.
According to OTC, the Jaguars will need roughly $9,637,408 in order to sign their class. That’s a little under $3M more in cap space than they currently have. It’s likely the team will either cut or re-sign a couple of their guys in order to get the space. Currently, left tackle Cam Robinson is a candidate to get re-signed after the team placed the franchise tag on him.
The Jaguars have 12 draft selections, including the No. 1 overall pick.
All numbers used in this article were courtesy of OverTheCap.com.