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Why T.J. Lang’s 3-year, $28.5 million contract is more like a 2-year deal

Don’t worry too much about the high cap figures in T.J. Lang’s contract.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Details from T.J. Lang’s three-year, $28.5 million deal with the Detroit Lions emerged on Wednesday, and the numbers are a bit scary. Though Lang only has a $5.92 million cap hit in 2017, that number nearly doubles for the 2018 and 2019 seasons:

That’s a lot to pay for a 29-year-old player that is coming off of hip surgery and a broken foot. Lang may be a Pro Bowl level guard, but that is undeniably a pretty big risk for the Lions, as Lang will be 32 before the end of his contract.

But there shouldn’t be cause for that much concern in Detroit. Lang is guaranteed $19 million in his new contract, and with an $8 million signing bonus, all of that guaranteed money will be paid off by the end of Lang’s second year with Detroit.

So what does that mean? Basically it means the Lions will have negligible dead money on the final year of his contract. With the Lions staring down the barrel of a huge cap hit in Lang’s final year, Detroit can decide to cut him before the start of the 2019 league year and save $9 million in cap space. Here’s the breakdown from OverTheCap:

So if you are worried about the high cap figures in Lang’s three-year, $28.5 million contract, it may be better to think of it as a two-year, $22.2 million deal* with a third-year option. That is still a pretty heavy price to pay, but there are little long-term ramifications of this deal if it goes sour.

*$22.2 million comes from the $19.5 million he’ll earn over two years plus the $2.666 million in dead cap if cut after second season.