When DeShon Elliott entered free agency, as a former starter for the Baltimore Ravens, he was expected to draw a fair amount of interest. But a flooded pool of free agents, a strong draft class, and coming off an injury culminated in keeping him on the market longer than anticipated.
PFF had originally projected Elliott to land a one-year deal worth $5.25 million, but the longer a player hangs around in free agency the lower the price drops. So, when Elliott did eventually sign with the Detroit Lions on a 1-year offer, it wasn’t overly surprising when NFL insider Josina Anderson reported the deal carried a max value of up to $3.65 million.
Recently, the contract details surrounding Elliott’s deal were released, and according to OverTheCap.com, the deal is even more team-friendly than originally reported. Let’s take a look at how it breaks down.
Base salary: $965,000
Signing bonus: $135,000 (guaranteed)
Cap hit: $1.1 million
While Elliott only carries a $1.1 million cap hit this season, his contract likely has built-in incentives, and if Anderson’s number is to be trusted, those incentives could be worth up to another $2.5 million. Now those incentives have not been released to the public, but because Elliott missed most of last season with injury, it’s highly likely they would fall into the “not likely to be earned” category—meaning even if Elliott earns the extra bonuses, they will be applied to next year’s salary cap.
Layering the contract with incentives is a solid approach for the organization and mirrors much of their approach to the offseason. Nearly every contract is short on commitment but can also be financially rewarding for a player who secures playing time with on-field production and if Elliott stays healthy, it appears he’ll have a chance to earn more money.
“When I’m on the field I’m very productive,” Elliott said during Thursday’s media session. “Now hopefully I can bring that to Detroit and compete for a starting role. Just be able to make this defense better. Make this team better. Bring the culture that I learned from all the vets when I was in Baltimore and talking to Quandre (Diggs)—he used to be here—being able to talk to him and just being able to advance my level of play mentally and physically so that I can last longer throughout the season. That would be great.”
At this time, Elliott looks to be a front-runner for a starting job alongside Tracy Walker with Will Harris in a hybrid defensive backs role, potentially completing the starting trio. But, with the 2022 NFL draft right around the corner, it’s very possible the Lions add more depth to the safety group, and possibly a player who can also push Elliott for a starting role.