So Chris Samuels is reportedly on the trading block eh? Well let's examine the facts of the case as opposed to a reporter's conjecture.
Samuels has three years remaining on his contract and he has approximately $9 million in signing bonus money that is still owed to him. The latest rumor has Chris heading to Oakland along with Washington's fifth pick in the draft. In exchange, the Redskins would receive Oakland's second overall pick. All of this movement to supposedly land Robert Gallery, a stud left tackle that now many are projecting to go first overall.
So how does a pro bowl player and community leader like Samuels find himself in this predicament?
With a 2004 cap hit of $8.75 M, the Redskins would love to restructure Chris' contract. He is the highest cap hit on the team and considering the past two year's performance, he's probably overpaid. His cap hit only gets worse in 2005 and 2006 too when his annual hit rises to over $10 M. Washington would like to renegotiate the contract so that they can free up some extra cap space this year by deferring upcoming annual salary into bonus money (that can be spread out across the remainder of the new contract). There's just one small problem -- Jimmy Sexton -- Samuels' agent.
Sexton seems to think that now is the time to proverbially 'flex his muscles'. The agent thought that it would be prudent to hold Samuels' contract over the Skins head when the team negotiated to bring Mark Brunell in to compete for the starting QB position. At the time he threatened that if the Skins brought in Brunell, his other Redskin client, Patrick Ramsey, would lose the potential to earn his incentives, and therefore, Sexton would not be a part of helping the Redskins gain valuable cap space by reworking the deal of Sexton's other client -- Chris Samuels.
Bush league tactics. It doesn't appear to have worked, though rumors like the Samuels-Gallery one are proof that it did have an effect.
So let's examine the one fact that makes this trade a rumor, more than a possibility... the acceleration of the signing bonus due to a trade. Part of the collective bargaining agreement is the pro-ration of the signing bonus. A player can be signed to a long term contract and even though a team throws a chunk of money at him right off the bat for a signing bonus, the NFL allows the team to pro-rate the cost of that bonus over the term of the contract. So if a player signs a 5-year contract with a $5 M signing bonus... then the team's salary cap will be impacted by $1M of that bonus per year. However, if a player is CUT or TRADED, that entire signing bonus needs to be applied to THIS year's cap figure. Compound that with the fact that Washington would be forced to sign Gallery to a contract that would be very similar to what it would cost to keep Samuels anyway. Then add to that, the fact that NOBODY will trade up to the number 2 spot to get Gallery until draft day. What's the point when someone can still take the stud tackle at the number 1 slot?
Samuels has an annual salary of $5.132M in 2004, plus the pro-rated version of his signing bonus is an additional $2.932M... he also has a roster bonus totaling 686K for a grand total of an $8.75M cap hit in 2004. So as it stands, it will cost the Redskins just a shade under $9M to have Samuels play for Washington this year. However, if the Redskins were to trade Samuels, they would have to eat all of his remaining bonus in 2004... almost $9M ($2.932M x 3). A cap savings of absolutely nothing. In fact, it will cost a few hundred thousand more to NOT have Samuels play. When looked at logically, it just makes too much sense to not even consider Samuels situation until after this season. By next season, the cap hit for cutting Samuels becomes tolerable. There would only be $6M in bonus money left, meaning that if the Skins were to cut him after June 1 in 2005, the cap hit would be less than $3M in each of the 2005 and 2006 seasons -- a much more palatable figure.
Look at the big picture and ask yourself if it makes sense. There have been comments made to the effect that cutting Jeremiah Trotter is equally economically irresponsible, and the Redskins still appear willing to do that if they cannot trade him. So what's the difference?
Now it just remain to be seen if Samuels can do what he needs to, in order to remain a Redskin for years to come... recognize that Sexton's power-trip didn't work, recognize that he has the chance to be a part of something special with Gibbs' return, fire Sexton, and re-do that contract. Otherwise, Samuels may find himself outside the Redskins box looking in.