On Monday, we listed defensive tackle Nick Williams as one of the big winners from the Detroit Lions’ first week of free agency. With a bloated cap hit of $5.7 million and $4.7 million of that non-guaranteed, he seemed like a prime candidate to be released. When it became clear the Lions weren’t doing that, it was a big win for Williams, who only had 23 tackles and one sack last year.
But it turns out it wasn’t a huge win for Williams. Per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free press, the veteran defensive tackle agreed to take a somewhat significant pay cut to stick with the team. Based on his Tweet from last week, he’s still pretty happy about it, but the move could cost him upwards of $2.7 million in potential money earned.
For the Lions, it saves them just over $2.68 million, which isn’t a ton of money, but every cent counts.
Here’s a look at how they got it done, comparing the old and new contracts.
Base salary: $4.1 million
Signing bonus proration: $1 million
Active roster bonus: $400,000—$25,000 per game ($350,000 LTBE, $50,000 NLTBE)
Workout bonus: $200,000
Cap hit: $5.65 million
Dead cap if cut: $1 million
Base salary: $1.25 million ($500,000 guaranteed)
Signing bonus + proration: $1.5M
Active roster bonus: $250,000—$15,625 per game ($218,750 LTBE, $31,250 NLTBE)
NO WORKOUT BONUS
Cap hit: $2,968,750
Dead cap if cut: $2 million
So here’s a closer look at what changed.
Base salary: Williams took a $2.85 million pay cut, but $500,000 of that is now guaranteed.
Signing bonus: The $1 million in prorated signing bonus from the previous contract carries over. The Lions can’t get rid of it. Meanwhile, the Lions gave Williams another $500,000 in signing bonus that he gets immediately for his troubles.
Roster bonus: Williams takes another cut here from $400,000 in potential roster bonuses to $250,000. Because he only played in 14 games last year, only 14/16th of that count against the cap, reducing his number from $350,000 in “likely to be earned” (LTBE) bonuses to $218,750.
Workout bonus: Williams will no longer receive a $200,000 workout bonus.
Cap hit: Drops from $5.65 million ($4.1M salary + $1M signing bonus + $550,000 LTBE bonuses) to $2,968,750 ($1.25M salary + $1.5M signing bonus + $218,750 LTBE bonuses). Saving the Lions $2,681,250 in cap space.
Dead cap if cut: Raises $1 million to $2 million total. This is due to the extra $500,000 in signing bonus and the $500,000 in guaranteed salary. This means the Lions would only recoup $968,750 if they cut Williams before the season.
What’s in it for the Lions
They keep Williams around, saving them yet another hole on defense. And they add nearly $2.7 million in cap space—which could be another player or two they can add in free agency.
What’s in it for Williams
He gets another $500,000 up front, plus another additional $500,000 in guaranteed salary. With so little savings on the line now if the Lions end up cutting Williams, it also gives him some roster security.
Given that the Lions had most of the leverage here—they could have simply cut him and recouped $4.65 million—Williams did alright for himself mitigating the damage, putting a guaranteed $1 million in his pocket, and making sure he’ll likely be in a Lions uniform for 2021.