At this time of year, the NFLPA starts making adjustments to their records to reflect changes in players’ Cap numbers due to escalators and incentives. Earlier this week, the Ravens’ 2017 Cap commitment (the total of players’ Cap numbers) increased by $500K. Russell Street Report has learned that this change is due to CB Shareece Wright’s Cap number increasing by $500K.
The three-year contract that Wright signed last offseason had a base value of $13M, but included up to $3M in incentives. If Wright earned all of those incentives, the maximum value of the deal would go up to $16M. Wright’s incentives were based on playing time and would allow him to receive an additional $1M per year if he hit certain playing time thresholds. Wright would earn $300K if he played in 50% of the defensive snaps in that season and that could increase to $500K if he played in 60% of the snaps and $1M if he played in 75% of the snaps.
Since Wright, according to Football Outsiders, played in 64% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in 2016, those incentives are going to create a double whammy on the Ravens 2017 Cap and may very well be the final nail in the coffin for Wright remaining with the Ravens in 2017.
Incentives are accounted for against the Salary Cap in two different ways:
1. Likely To Be Earned Incentives (LTBE) – these incentives count against the present year’s Cap if the player reached those thresholds in the prior season. If they go unearned, the team receives a credit (positive adjustment) against the following year’s Cap, thereby increasing the team’s Cap space in the following year.
2. Not Likely To be Earned Incentive (NLTBE) – these incentives do not count against the present year’s Cap because the player did not reach those thresholds in the prior season. If the thresholds are met and the player earns the incentives, the team receives a negative adjustment against the following year’s Cap, thereby reducing the team’s Cap space in the following year.
So, since Wright hit the playing time threshold, he earned $500K in 2016 NLTBE incentives and those incentives (which didn’t count against the 2016 Cap) will hit the 2017 Cap as a negative adjustment. This means the team’s overall 2017 Cap space will be reduced by $500K and will happen regardless of whether Wright is on the team in 2017 or not. Basically, since he earned the incentive and gets paid for it, it has to count against the Cap.
Those earned incentives also operate to convert $500K worth of his 2017 playing time incentives into LTBE incentives – since he met that threshold in 2016 – thereby adding that $500K onto his 2017 Cap number. As such, Wright’s Cap number increased from $5.333M to $5.833M. It also means that the Cap savings from his release would increase by $500K, since the incentives could not be earned if he’s no longer on the team.
The upshot of all of this is that Wright’s already tenuous hold on his roster spot may have just gotten even worse – if that’s possible. It’s bad enough when the owner specifically calls you out at the season-ending Press Conference, but earning incentives, while playing poorly, and seeing your Cap number increase may well make it even easier for the team to justify your release.