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A Close Look at the Sione Pouha Contract
New York Jets Salary Cap Page

A Close Look at the Sione Pouha Contract

Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star Ledger reported the breakdown of NT Sione Pouha’s contract. After looking at Jenny’s report we now have a pretty good idea of how the mechanics of the deal seem to work. The Jets have been criticized in the past for some of their contract structures, with reported high guarantees and up front payments that seem to limit the potential movement of certain players. This deal looks to be one that should escape any and all criticism.

I wrote an article last year about what I believed Pouha would be worth to an NFL team. My feeling was that his age was a detriment and most players in his age bracket are receiving 1 and 2 year contracts. My assumption was a 3 year deal worth just over $4.5 million a year. The Jets did go over that amount, likely taking into consideration the fact that he played even better down the stretch of the year plus the intangibles he brings to the locker room, but the guess was in the ballpark. The structure of the deal seems to be an absolute surefire winner for the team.

Pouha’s contract is basically 3 deals in 1. His first contract is a 1 year contract with a fully guaranteed payout of $4.5 million. Where things begin to get interesting is in year 2. According to Jenny’s report, Pouha’s $4.9 million base salary in 2013 is guaranteed for injury only, meaning the Jets are only on the hook for that money if Pouha suffers a career threatening injury. Like many other contracts the Jets have recently signed there is an incentive for the player, in that the base salary will become fully guaranteed if the Jets do not cut him before a certain date, in Pouha’s case the third day of the 2013 League Year. If he remains on the team Pouha is guaranteed to earn $5 million.

It is a great protection for the Jets. Pouha has never played this amount of snaps before in his career and it is really unknown as to how well he will hold up as a full time player. So in 2013 the Jets decision is to have Pouha for a cap charge of $6,166,666 cap charge or release him and only absorb a dead money hit of $2,333,334. Nothing precludes the Jets from negotiating that salary downward as well if his play drops off. It’s a great deal for the team.

So now comes the third, and most intriguing, option in the contract. Pouha has no guarantees in the final year of his deal. The Jets have a number of options available to them in 2014. The cap charge will be nearly identical to his cap charge in 2013 but the dead money is half of the 2013 amount. Pouha is owed a roster bonus of $2,000,000 on the 7th day of the 2014 league year, however if his contribution to the team diminishes below 55% of the snaps it gets slashed to $500,000. Other than a $100,000 workout bonus the Jets would not owe Pouha another penny until the first game of the year at which point $3.6 million becomes guaranteed. So if Pouha got injured during the 2013 season or saw his play trail off and the Jets still want to take a look it only costs the team $600,000 in added cap dollars to keep him around all of camp to see what type of player he still is and give the team ample time to continue to negotiate his salary downward.

It really is a big win for both sides. Pouha gets his first real payday of his career and the Jets have multiple options open to them if things don’t go as planned. Three series of contracts with the front office having all the power to decide if the contract should or should not be extended. Every Jets fan should be happy with this one.

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