CBA BlackBook 1: practice squads, qualifying contracts and more

I am enclosing some specific details in case you are wondering about terms being thrown around. I am including a few things that may or may not affect players you may want to claim off waivers or other details you may have questioned but were afraid to ask. If this is TMI or you already know all this then this post isn't for you:) But I hope someone finds this information useful.

Accrued Season ("AS") – A player is deemed to have earned an AS if he was on, or should have been on, full pay status for six or more regular season games. But regardless of his pay status, games are not accrued if he was on (a) Exempt Commissioner Permission List (b) the Reserve PUP List as a result of non-football injury or (c) a Club's Practice Squad.

Accrued Seasons are very important because they determine FA eligibility so no player wants to lose an AS if at all possible. A player under contract shall not receive credit for an AS in any League Year he fails to report thirty days prior to the regular season start. There are ways around this though because Chris Johnson has already violated this rule. Could be a transition rule for 2011 b/c the late season start? Anyone know and care to opine on this?

Squad Size – for 2011 Active list limit is 46 players and cannot be reduced except during regular season can be 43 and no more than 46. Active/Inactive List ("AIL") cannot exceed 53 players.


Practice Squad ("PS) – PS consists of eight players but may move to nine with the designation of an "international player" (not a US citizen) to some or all of Club PSs. Such player will follow same rules as the eight other PS players with certain limitations to team movement and postseason eligibility. The eight "normal" PS players are free to sign with any other club at any time provided it is to an AIL (cannot jump to another Club’s PS while under contract). Also, cannot sign to a Club's next opponent within 6 days (10 days for a bye week) of said opponent’s upcoming game. Minimum PS Salary for 2011 & 2012 is $5,700 per week during regular & post season.

So if your Club gets to the Super Bowl this year you would be paid this week plus 17 regular season weeks plus 5 postseason for a total of 23 weeks @ $5,700 per week. Your minimum earnings for a PS player for a SB team would be $131,100 for 2011.

Practice Squad Eligibility ("PSE") – For players serving two years or less on a PS, the following rules apply to PSE:

  • Players who do not have an AS of NFL experience.
  • FA players  on the Active List for less than 9 regular season games during each of their AS(s). 
  • An otherwise eligible player can be on the PS for a third season only if his club has at least 53 on the AIL during the entire period of his employment.

Qualifying Contract ("QC") - a player with 4 or more accrued seasons can sign a one year contract at the current minimum AIL salary for his ASs but only count against the salary cap for a 2 year minimum  AIL provided there is no more than $50k Additional Compensation ("AC") within the proposed contract.  Salary guarantee cannot be greater than 2yr  AIL minimum. ($525k for 2011).  Any dead$ from a previous contract that remains or accelerated this year combined with the QC must not exceed $50k in AC and  $525k in guaranteed salary. A player is eligible to sign a QC with prior club or new club assuming he qualifies otherwise. In other words, Flozell could be re-signed for $910k salary and $50k signing bonus but his salary only counts as $525k to the cap. (the difference between $910k & $525k ($385k) is considered  Minimum Salary Benefit ("MSB") or player benefit ("PB")). Starks would not be eligible to sign a QC b/c he had AC greater than $50k ($2mm in "dead money" which was either unamortized signing bonus or other remaining guarantees). Keep in mind it is hard to get a good player to sign a QC if he has any other options, although if you can find guys like Flozell (without dead $ hanging over them) you can get them for a nice Salary Cap discount.

Termination Pay ("TP") – A player is entitled to termination pay once in their NFL career. Should you sign a veteran with 4 or more seasons prior to 1st game & he is on AIL prior to 1st game but is then released after 1st regular season game they are entitled to TP equal to the full balance of contract remaining & due.  However, a vet who signs a mid-season contract and is eligible for TP will be paid the the greater of 25% of (aAIL remaining prorated salary or (b) one week of the applicable AIL minimum salary. Example: Assume you sign a player after 2nd week to AIL minimum of $850k, his prorated salary is $750k or 15/17th of the $850k.  So, if you release him after week 9 his remaining salary would be $400k and TP would be greater of 25% of $400k ($100k) or one week salary ($50k) so you would owe him only $100k TP.  Now, TP can be claimed only once in player’s career and it does count against the Salary Cap.

Additional Salary Cap Room – For 2011 League Year Clubs are able to designate 3 players with five or more AS on July 25, 2011 and have Salary of at least $1mm over minimum AIL.  So, a club can designate 3 players and receive a $1mm credit per player to 2011 Team Salary Cap (max $3mm credit). However, players must remain on the Active/Inactive Roster, Reserve/Injured List or Physically Unable to Perform ("PUP") List throughout the 2011 regular season. This credit will be reduced proportionately for each week not on the Club Roster described in the preceding sentence. Also, there will be the exact same type of credit offered with same rules/repayment terms for 2012 League Year but it will be 3 players at $500k apiece (max $1.5mm credit). These credits are not free and will be charged to Team Salary in a manner designated by each individual Club and to be spread over 2014-17 League Years. Should club fail to designate repayment by 2016, full amount of their credit will be charged for 2017. 

This is the reason we never heard about the cap being raised by this $3mm for 2011, this is a credit (reduction) to specific contracts and not an upward adjustment of the 2011 Salary Cap of $120.375mm.

SIDE NOTE: As I have been saying all along, cap will go up dramatically (like $50mm in 2014) and the NFL obviously is trying to transition teams with tight cap numbers to that 2014 League Year. 2014 is the "Get out of Jail Free" card that everyone is looking to play. 

A lot of this stuff is pretty boring but some people want the information. Please suggest further topics you are interested in on the new CBA, Salary Cap, NFL finances. I am not your guy for draft choice or free agent evaluation, unless you are looking for a restricted free agent tender calculation:)


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