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Marcus Gilbert Contract: The 'Real' Numbers

Contract details for Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, who was resigned in free agency

When Arizona Cardinals tackle Marcus Gilbert agreed to terms last week on a one-year contract, the reporting on the dollars in the deal once again was an example of the misleading information that is often communicated by agents and passed on by national reporters via Twitter without asking the necessary pertinent questions.

In Gilbert’s case, ESPN’s Adam Schefter wrote that agent Drew Rosenhaus pegged the contract's worth “up to” $3.75 million. That sounds a lot better than the reality of the deal. Not surprisingly, there was no mention of guaranteed money.

At the time, I wrote that tell-tale phrase (“up to”) are the “the buzzwords for an incentive-laden contract. Most likely, it is a relatively low base salary along with incentives for games played. Thanks to injuries that included a torn ACL just before the start of the 2019 season, Gilbert has played 12 of a possible 48 games over the last three seasons.”

It turns out that is precisely the case. Gilbert’s base salary is the league minimum of $1.05 million for a player with his accrued seasons and only $150,000 of the salary is guaranteed. At $61,765 per week, the guarantee essentially covers three games.

It is true that the value of the deal is worth “up to” $3.75 million because there are playtime incentives worth “up to” $2.7 million where the specific breakdown is not known. Those are likely per-game bonuses, which computes to $168,750 for each game played.

It is certainly possible Gilbert could begin the season on reserve/physically unable to perform when his salary would be paid, but the incentives not earned.

This is simply another cautionary tale for those who see initial limited reports on contracts that do not provide a true picture.

In other contract news:

*The contract guard Max Garcia agreed to with the Cardinals is a one-year deal worth $1.25 million with $600,000 guaranteed, part of which is a $150,000 signing bonus. Garcia’s base salary is $910,000, of which $450,000 is guaranteed.

The deal also includes up to $190,000 in roster bonuses ($11,875 for each game active) and up to $1 million in playtime incentives.

*The two-year contract agreed to by former Cardinals defensive end Zach Kerr with the Carolina Panthers is worth $3 million over two years and includes a $500,000 signing bonus. The base salaries are $910,000 and $1.075 million. He can also earn $57,500 each year for workout bonuses and up to $200,000 each year in per-game roster bonuses.

*Former Cardinals linebacker Joe Walker’s one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers is for $900,000. There is a base salary of $825,000 and per-game roster bonuses worth up to $75,000.