The Philly Loophole
Texans’ fourth season in existence is all but lost. Opening
with five losses in as many tries, there are going to be several
key members of the staff and front office that will soon find themselves
extinct, making Reliant Park look a bit more like Jurassic Park
by the end of the year.
but there is something trapped deep within the DNA code of the salary
cap rules of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Something that can give new life to this franchise.
called the Philly Loophole.
more on that in a minute. I’ve got to set up the backstory
first before I let you see what these dinosaurs can do in the climax.
and hair model David Carr sits on the brink. A couple years ago,
his performance triggered an option in his rookie deal to accelerate
his salaries and expedite his contract expiration so it could terminate
after the 2005 season.
course, the milestone caught no attention in the media because the
contract also allowed the Texans to counter Carr’s action
with one of two buyback options by the end of this season, inclusing
one that would trigger an $8 million bonus and a three-year extension
at salaries of $5.25 million in 2006 and 2007 and $6 million in
2008. The other, a two-year version, would give Carr a $5.5 million
bonus and salaries of $5 million in 2006 and $5.25 million in 2007.
were going along as planned with Carr’s contract, much the
same way they seemed to have been going with the franchise itself
through the first three seasons. The Texans' decision to exercise
the buyback option on Carr’s contract was more than just a
foregone conclusion before the season. When I asked general manager
Charley Casserly about it, he confirmed that the team was even keeping
an extra $2 million in cap space available this season to take advantage
of prorating that three-year option bonus across a fourth year.
came the horrid start to this season. Despite the losses and the
subpar quarterback play on the field, Casserly remains adamant to
this day that Carr is - and will be - the future of their franchise.
There is ample reason to believe him. While the coaches may change
over the years, the core of key players often remains.
the Texans aren’t obligated to exercise either of the buyback
options. Failing a trade before Tuesday’s deadline (don’t
count on it), Carr and the Texans could amicably part ways after
the season is over. Carr can become an unrestricted free agent and
take what the market will give him (which is likely to exceed a
three-year contract for an $8 million bonus), and the Texans can
absorb exactly $0 in salary cap dead space.
here’s an idea if the Texans aren’t willing to say goodbye
to Carr and all that hair just yet: renegotiate the buyback option.
on which resource is to be believed, the Texans have somewhere in
the neighborhood of $4.5 million to $7.8 million of cap space remaining
this season, the latter figure reported by ESPN.com a month ago,
which ranked the team as having the second-most available cap space
in the league. By simply exercising the buyback before the end of
the season, the Texans will still have $5.8 million of cap room
left unused according to ESPN’s figures.
the contract could allow the team to accelerate some of those bonus
and salary dollars to this year’s cap. It could also allow
the team to – big climaxing music here - actually create
additional cap space in 2006.
brings us back to the Philly loophole.
how it works: Any incentive bonus added to a contract after the
season has started is deemed as “likely to be earned”
(“LTBE” in the NFL’s abbreviated nomenclature)
no matter how unlikely it is for that bonus to be achieved. If any
of those LTBEs are not earned by the end of the season, those amounts
get added as extra cap room for the following season.
this sounds like a huge freaking loophole, that’s because
it is. I told Laura Dern about this a week ago, and she still has
this look on her face. Yes, Laura, there is a trick: those LTBEs
have to fit under the current year’s cap first, which is why
not every team in the league can do this. Ever hear of the saying
that “it takes money to make money?" Well, the same applies
to this loophole, except that it takes cap room this year to make
cap room next year.
is called the Philly Loophole because the Eagles (who are, not surprisingly,
the ONLY team with more cap space right now than the Texans) first
took serious advantage of this gap in the salary cap rules a couple
years ago by granting a small-time player a new contract after the
season had started, one with a multi-million dollar incentive only
an every-down player could ever achieve.
teams have taken advantage of the loophole since then, including
the Texans' divisional rival Jaguars. Late last season, they wrote
in a $6 million incentive for third-string quarterback Quinn Gray,
payable only if he were to lead the team in touchdown passes. As
try forgetting for a moment that it was the Texans who first let
the Jaguars out of cap hell to write such an incentive when they
took Tony Boselli, Gary Walker, and Seth Payne in the expansion
draft, thereby making the Philly Loophole all the more possible
the introduction of a few likely to be earned incentives that Carr
would have no way of achieving in 2005, the Texans can also create
some additional cap room for next season. Carr would agree to it
because he still makes the same amount of money (possibly more in
a renegotiated deal), and it helps his team at the same time.
it’s about time for the Texans to spare no expenses before
it’s too late. Carr’s buyback option is the perfect
opportunity to do it. Adding about $4 million worth of special teams
incentives in Carr’s renegotiated deal ought to do the trick.
Doing so would allow the team to reap the benefits of a lost season
beyond just a high pick in next April’s college draft.
Weiland is simply saying that life finds a way.
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