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A detailed look at CB Sam Beal’s contract

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How the structure of rookie’s deal offers a clue into the team’s long-term cap management strategy.

81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Western Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Thanks to web sites such as Over the Cap and Spotrac, more and more details are available about the NFL contracts and how they are broken down per year.

I’ve always believed that how a contract is structured can also provide some insight into what the expectations are for players both in the short- and long-term, and the latest example of this is the four-year, $4.082 million deal recently signed by Giants cornerback Sam Beal, selected in the third round of the supplemental draft.

The Numbers

@Patricia_Traina FYI - Sam Beal received a $1,048,940 signing bonuis. His salaries are
2018 - 480K
2019 - 665,559
2020 - 851,118
2021- 1,036,677

— CapSpace=$10,019,148 (@patscap) July 17, 2018

On the surface, the numbers Beal received -- a four-year deal worth a total of $4,082,294--look simple enough.

There are a few things, though, worth pointing out. First, the net value of his contract is worth slightly more than what either of the Giants two third-round picks in this year’s draft class received, those being linebacker Lorenzo Carter, pick No. 66 overall, getting a 4-year, $3.509 million package and defensive tackle B.J. Hill getting a 4-year, $3.489 million deal.

While Beal’s signing bonus, $1.048 million is just about on par with what Carter received, Beal’s overall contract value is higher than both Carter’s and Hill’s because Beal technically counts against next year’s draft class. (The Giants will forfeit their original third-round pick in next year’s class.)

Here is the interesting thing about Beal’s rookie deal: He has a split salary in his first season where if he’s on the 53-man roster, he’ll earn $480,000 as a base salary, which is the 2018 minimum for a rookie.

If however, Beal ends up on injured reserve, his first-year base salary drops to $363,000.

For those wondering, if he starts the year on the active roster but then moves to IR, the split salary becomes prorated to cover however many games are left for the season.

What does the split salary tell us?

First, it’s not uncommon for draft picks in rounds three and later to receive splits in their contracts either for one or multiple years. This tactic is done to save money by the team in the event the pick ends up injured while still allowing them to hold onto their rights at a lower cap hit if they pass through waivers.

What’s interesting about Beal’s deal is that he only has a split in the first year of the contract. Why is this significant? Because it provides a potential clue into how the Giants might be thinking for next year.

The likely scenario for 2018 is that Beal will contribute in a limited fashion as a rookie, this due to some technique issues noted by scouting reports that need to be cleaned up.

In their press release confirming the selection of Beal, the Giants made note of their “getting a head start on 2019” with the selection of Beal.

This could mean that they wanted to get a jump-start on grooming him to be a potential starter while they still have two guys already on the roster capable of starting and playing at a high enough level, those being Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple.

I’ve mentioned this before on the LockedOn Giants podcast previewing the cornerback position, but I’ll mention this again here. I would not be surprised if this is the final season with the Giants for Jenkins.

Jenkins, who will be 31 in 2019, is due to count for $13.25 million against next year’s cap. With him coming off an injury plagued 2017 season that also saw him draw a suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules, he needs to revert back to his Pro Bowl form from 2016 in order to justify the high payout that is currently on the books for him in 2019.

If Jenkins is cut before the start of next year’s free agency, he would cost the Giants only $4 million in dead money, yielding a $9.25 million savings which is plenty of money to get two or three free agents, be they from other teams or the Giants own, on board.

Taking things a step further, if Jenkins is indeed cut and Beal is the heir presumptive to Jenkins’ starting job, the Giants should be theoretically set at cornerback for years to come given Beal will be 23 in 2019 and Eli Apple will be 24.