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Sign and trade

Mister pudding

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With all the bluster of the Stafford deal and what Ryan may return if he was strongly wanted by another team, one needs to consider cap implications. If we were to want to draft a qb at #4 and move away from Ryan, what are our options? Draft picks are a good start, but considering we'd be eating so much cap, getting a player in the deal would also be beneficial to us, as the trading team would be stuck with their cap hit. Just thinking (typing) out loud, if Washington would be interested, would you consider Matt Ryan for a 1st and 2nd in 2021 and a 2nd in 2022 along with a sign and trade of Brandon Scherff? Not that I'm advocating trading MR2 nor do I even want to draft a qb at #4, but wondering if the situation is viable

"When a player is traded, the effect to the team that trades him is exactly the same as if it had cut him – future salary is wiped off the books (becoming the responsibility of the receiving team), but pro-rated signing bonus money accelerates onto the current year’s cap, creating the same disincentive to trades that exist for cuts.  As a result, much of the time the only players who are traded are those who stood a good chance of being cut outright, with the receiving team frequently giving up a low draft pick for the privilege of skipping in line ahead of other teams who might have bid for the player’s services in free agency.  Furthermore, traded players will often negotiate a new deal with their new teams, as the prospect of playing on a completely non-guaranteed contract will often induce them to restructure their deals to include guaranteed salary, thereby reintroducing the job security of the dead money protection, even if at a lower overall level of pay.

It doesn’t have to be like this.  Deals could be structured to work better for players and to both teams in a trade, though this would only happen in a situation where a trade seemed likely.  A sign-and trade deal, in which a trade deal is contingent on a player signing a pre-negotiated contract, is a common thing in the NBA, whose rules allow a player’s current team certain contractual freedoms over any other team they might sign with as a free agent.  In the NFL, there’s no such incentive for a sign-and-trade, but it could still be a mechanism for a team to extract significantly more value from a player than they could otherwise get with a typical trade.
Here’s how it would work: a team decides a player isn’t worth his salary (for existing contracts) or desired salary (for new contracts) and starts considering options for parting ways.  Normally, the team’s options would be limited to either cutting the player or attempting to trade him for a pittance as described above (or simply allowing the contract to expire if that will happen soon).   But if a contract could be negotiated to reduce the signing bonus and replace it with guaranteed salary, then the old team would reduce the acceleration on the current cap, the new team would gain a new player at a discount, and the player would retain more leverage and security than they otherwise would in a trade, while potentially earning more than they could if they were cut outright and made a free agent.
In the case of Andre Johnson, suppose he and the team renegotiated his contract to keep the total and guaranteed salaries unchanged, but simply converted half of the pro-rated bonus to guaranteed salary.  Now Houston can trade him at a dead-money cost of "only" $6M instead of $12M.  Meanwhile, the team trading for him (say, Carolina), would get him at a $6M discount over his existing salary (which is presumably at least somewhat reflective of his market value since he negotiated it with the leverage of possibly leaving in free agency).  Furthermore, Carolina would be on the hook for six million fewer guaranteed dollars than if they had signed Johnson to his existing deal in free agency.  In fact, Johnson could conceivably even get a raise over his current deal and Carolina would still be getting him at a discount.  In this way, the two teams share the cost of the player and each make use of their comparative advantages (having the player under contract in Houston's case, and offering a fresh start and draft picks or other assets in Carolina's).  David Ricardo would be proud."
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