Whenever an NFL contract is described with a “max value” of a certain amount, you should approach it with a certain amount of skepticism. The original numbers are often put out by player agents to give the impression of a big deal for their client.
The new contract for Detroit Lions wide receiver Josh Reynolds is a great example of this. When first reported, Reynolds’ contract was described as a two-year deal with a “max value” of $12 million. On Saturday, the details of the contract were released by Over The Cap, and the truth of the contract is that it is more of a two-year, $6 million contract with only $2.7 million in guarantees—essentially half the deal that was originally reported.
Here’s a breakdown of Reynolds’ contract by year.
Base salary: $1.2 million (guaranteed at signing)
Signing bonus: $1.5 million ($750,000 proration per year)
Workout bonus: $50,000
Cap hit: $2 million
Right away, Reynolds gets a $1.5 million check as a signing bonus, and is guaranteed another $1.2 million in salary for the season whether he makes the team or not. Throw in a $50,000 workout bonus, and the Lions take on an extremely mild cap hit of $2 million, which currently ranks 61st among wide receivers (between Elijah Moore and K.J. Hamler).
Because $2.7 million of his contract is guaranteed, the Lions would actually lose cap space ($700,000) if they cut him this year. So, you can almost guarantee he’ll be on the roster come September.
Base salary: $1.8 million
Signing bonus: $750,000 proration
Workout bonus: $50,000
Game roster bonus: Up to $400,000
Roster bonus (due March 20): $1 million
Cap hit: $4 million
Dead cap if cut: $750,000 (frees up $3.25M)
With only $750,000 left in bonuses, the Lions will not have to be married to Reynolds in 2023. He has the opportunity to earn a lot of extra bonuses if he makes it on the roster, including a workout bonus, roster bonus, and gameday roster bonuses.
His cap hit jumps to $4 million total, which currently ranks just 34th among wide receivers for the 2023 season. But, again, if the Lions decide to cut ties with Reynolds before March 20, he will only cost $750,000 against the cap.
So where does this original $12 million figure come from? It’s not entirely clear, but Over The Cap does note that in addition to the $6 million laid out above, Reynolds has $4 million worth of unspecified incentives he can earn. Oftentimes, players can earn extra money via playing time (a certain percentage of snaps), postseason honors (Pro Bowls, All-Pros), and hitting certain statistical benchmarks (1,000 yards, etc.). If Reynolds hits any of those achievements they would count against future salary caps.
Overall, this is an extremely modest deal, and one that seems to signify Reynolds was more than happy to come back to Detroit to avoid hitting free agency again. That matches with what Reynolds told the media via Zoom after signing his new deal.
“They came in with full trust in me and let me do my thing,” Reynolds told the media after signing his contract. “That just showed how much trust they had in me, and that was a big reason why I was also looking forward to getting this deal done with them.”