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Pi Network

Draft King Analysis
March 4, 2015
Lou Pickney,

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It has been interesting to see the feedback from last night's announcement that the Bills will be trading LB Kiko Alonso to the Eagles for RB LeSean "Shady" McCoy. This sort of heads-up trade is unusual, somewhat harkening back to the pre-1993 salary cap era. That's partly because of guaranteed money -- if you trade a player, the cap hit for his remaining pro-rated bonus accelerates to the current league year.

But in the case of McCoy, while the Eagles will incur a $3.4 million cap hit (as this Grantland piece explains), he was going to cost a whopping $12 million against the cap had he not be traded or cut. And, particularly in the modern pass-heavy NFL, paying an aging RB simply doesn't make sense in most cases. The chart shows a precipitous drop at age 27, which is how old McCoy will be by the start of training camp.

Buffalo reportedly offered C.J. Spiller $4.5 million a year, which he is said to have turned down in favor of trying his luck in free agency. Spiller turns 28 in August, and it will be interesting to see how much he ends up being paid by whichever team signs him.

The grand prize in this year's free agent class is Ndamukong Suh. He's an elite player at a key spot, a top-tier defensive tackle with exceptional pass-rush skills for the position.

Guys like Suh almost never hit the open market in their prime. For Detroit, franchising him would have been cost prohibitive, costing a whopping $26.87 million against the cap. As it is, due to past contract restructuring, he will still count more than $9.7 million against the cap in "dead money" from previously-achieved incentives.

J.J. Watt received $51.8 million guaranteed from Houston this past September as part of a new six-year deal, and Suh will likely eclipse that guaranteed money mark with so many potential suitors out there. In many ways, Suh is the best player to hit unrestricted free agency since Peyton Manning and, arguably, the best defensive player to do so since Reggie White in 1993. And the circumstances that led to White being an unrestricted free agent were quite unique, with ties going back to the USFL era.

At the same time, Suh comes with some risk. He's on thin ice with the league when it comes to his on-field conduct, and he was lucky to play in Detroit's playoff game at Dallas in January after initially being suspended for stepping and/or stomping (depending on your point of view) on Aaron Rodgers in the final week of the regular season.

Suh has been fined in total nine times in his NFL career and was suspended in 2011 for stomping on Evan-Dietrich Smith. And, based on that history, there is the very realistic threat that another major transgression could lead to Suh receiving a multiple-game suspension.

But even risk-averse teams would be foolish to not give him full consideration, though it's going to take a team with plenty of cap space to land him. For general managers on the hot seat, offering a long contract with huge guaranteed money is a risk worth taking since, if it doesn't work, in all likelihood they won't have to be there to deal with the consequences.

Denver looks to have Peyton Manning in place with him reportedly agreeing to restructure his contract. Manning, even at this point in his career, is an elite talent who would have had plenty of interested teams vying for him had he been released. Instead, the Broncos look to have him for at least one more run at a Super Bowl.


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