Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 3/16/12

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 29: Frostee Rucker #92 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after making a tackle against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 16-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Frostee Rucker signed a five-year deal for $20.5 million! That means the Browns are paying Frostee Rucker $4.1 million per year!

Now that we have that out of the way, I thought it might be interesting to look inside the deal and how the Browns protected themselves, yet gave Frostee Rucker a good amount of money at the same time.

According to the updated information on Rotoworld, Frostee Rucker’s deal breaks down like this.

From a cash flow perspective, the Browns gave Frostee $5 million for a signing bonus. Frostee is all but guaranteed to make his first year salary of $1 million. 2012 will be a great year for Frostee Rucker as he’ll make $6 million of Randy Lerner’s money. But, from a cap perspective it works out differently for the Browns in case Frostee Rucker can’t be a beneficial contributor to the team.

The $5 million signing bonus can be spread out over the life of the deal, or five years. So, if Frostee Rucker plays out his entire deal, it will look something like this.

Salary Signing Bonus Cap # 2012 $1.0 $1.0 $2.0 2013 $2.5 $1.0 $3.5 2014 $3.7 $1.0 $4.7 2015 $3.5 $1.0 $4.5 2016 $4.1 $1.0 $5.1

The numbers only add up to $19.8 instead of $21.5 million so I figure they’re missing a small roster or workout bonus in there somewhere. Close enough for rock ‘n roll, though. The really important number is what it would cost the Browns to cut Frostee Rucker early.

That is whatever amount of signing bonus is left over, so it is $5 million in 2012 and declining $1 million every year thereafter. So if the Browns cut Rucker before the 2013 season, they’d take a cap hit of $4 million, but it would only cost them $3.5 million if he remained on the roster to play as you can see above.

This sets up a decision point for the team before 2014. That’s when the lines cross because the Browns either pay Rucker $4.7 million to play, or they can cut him and the cap hit will only be $3 million. That’s a hefty cap hit, but depending on what kind of situation they’re in it could be important money to save.

Is it a good deal for the Browns? Initially, yes. The Browns obviously need Rucker to play well for it to be a good deal. In the meantime from a salary cap standpoint, the Browns retain maximum flexibility in 2012 by only using up about $2 million for Rucker’s services.

Ideally for the Browns, Frostee Rucker will be a valuable member of the team for at least three seasons. It doesn’t seem that many five-year deals are finished and that’s why the last year is such a high number. That’s the number – no matter how frequently it turns out to be meaningless – that allows an agent to crow about the “MORE THAN $21 MILLION” he just got for his player.

It is a cheap pop, when all he really did was get Frostee Rucker $6 million in cash today. Shouldn’t that be noteworthy enough?

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