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Tyrell Williams contract details reveal very affordable deal for Detroit Lions

Beware of the misleading—or downright wrong—initial reports on contract details.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Detroit Lions signed free agent wide receiver Tyrell Williams. The deal was initially reported as a one-year deal worth “up to $6.2 million.” Later, Ian Rapoport reported that it came with a base salary of $4.7 million.

However, more contract details came out this week and while the first part of the initial report is technically true—$6.2 million is the absolute maximum of this deal—the second ($4.7 million base salary) is completely false. Instead, the Lions have found themselves an extremely affordable deal that will only cost Detroit $3 million in cap space for 2021.

ESPN’s Field Yates has the details here.

Here’s the important breakdown. For 2021, Williams will have a guaranteed base salary of $2 million to go with a $2 million signing bonus. The Lions also added a voidable year to the contract to split the cap hit of that $2 million signing bonus between the two years. Hence, the cap hit for 2021 is $2 million base salary plus $1 million for the signing bonus, with a $1 million cap hit from the signing bonus in the voided 2022 season.

Then there’s the $2.2 million in incentives available for Williams. The details on those incentives are still not known, but they will not count against this year’s cap. Incentives are split into categories based on last year’s performance: “Likely to be earned” (LTBE) or “not likely to be earned” (NLTBE). LTBE incentives count against this year’s cap (and are returned if not earned the following year). NLTBE incentives, if earned, count against the following year’s cap.

Because Williams missed all of last season, all of his incentives are considered NLTBE. Therefore, however much of that $2.2 million in incentives Williams ends up earning will count against the 2022 cap.

Here’s the basic financial breakdown.


Base salary: $2 million (guaranteed)
Signing bonus proration: $1 million
Cap hit: $3 million
Dead cap if cut: $4 million

2022 (voided)

Signing bonus proration: $1 million
Incentive bonuses: Up to $2.2 million
Cap hit: $1 million (up to $3.2 million)

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