I’ve been trying to track down some more info on this, but if Bryant McKinnie’s $1M incentive is truly based on 50% playing time only (i.e. there’s not some other qualifier), then that $1M would still count against the Cap this year. So, if the reported information is correct, this move was not done for Salary Cap purposes.
Basically, incentives are either “likely to be earned” or “not likely to be earned”. If they are LTBE, they count against the present Cap (and if unearned, are credited against the following year’s Cap). If they are NLTBE, they don’t count this year, but would count next year, if earned.
The difference between the two types of incentives is that an incentive is considered to be LTBE if it would have been earned in the prior year. For McKinnie, he obviously played more than 50% of the offensive plays last year, so this new incentive (if as reported) would be LTBE and that $1M would still count against this year’s Cap.
So, based on that, it doesn’t appear that this move was made for Salary Cap purposes, as it created no additional Cap space for this year. Seen in that light, it looks more like the Ravens want to save money if he doesn’t play as much as expected. After all, if they expect him to be their starting LT all season, then why go through this exercise, especially when it’s saved them nothing this year.
So, what does that mean? Does that mean they are expecting to see him play less? Does it mean that they don’t trust McKinnie? Or that they don’t expect him to hold onto the LT job for the entire season? Could we see Michael Oher as the starting LT? Or how about Kelichi Osemele at LT?
At this point, it’s all just speculation – and perhaps the reports, so far, are missing some important facts – but it does appear that the front office’s motives for reducing McKinnie’s pay may have had less to do with the Salary Cap and more to do with other factors.