ITP Glossary: Veteran Minimum Benefit

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Veteran Minimum Salary Benefit

This benefit was put in place in the 2011 CBA to allow veterans to continue to make money commensurate with their experience without disadvantaging them in competitions with younger players for roles. One example is the contract of defensive tackle Pat Sims of the Cincinnati Bengals. His salary is double the current rookie minimum ($435,000), so without the minimum salary benefit the Bengals would have a significant financial incentive to replace him with a younger, less expensive option. Instead, Cincinnati would save just $150,000 of cap space going with an undrafted rookie instead (Cincinnati would owe Sims his bonus money even if they cut him).

The benefit is structured as follows. It provides salary cap relief for teams that sign veterans with at least four years experience to a one-year contract at the minimum salary dictated by their experience level.

Yrs. 2015 2016 2017 2018
0 $435,000 $450,000 $465,000 $480,000
1 $510,000 $525,000 $540,000 $555,000
2 $585,000 $600,000 $615,000 $630,000
3 $660,000 $675,000 $690,000 $705,000
4-6 $745,000 $760,000 $775,000 $790,000
7-9 $870,000 $885,000 $900,000 $915,000
10+ $970,000 $985,000 $1,000,000 $1,015,000

Numbers courtesy of sportrac.

Bonus money, including incentives, roster bonus, or signing bonus, cannot exceed $80,000, and the guaranteed salary cannot exceed the minimum for a two-year veteran (currently $585,000). The minimum salary varies by years of experience and increments each season, and the maximum bonus also increments over the course of the CBA (it was $65,000 prior to March 10th, the start of the new league year). Rather than the typical cap charge of a player’s salary plus bonus, the cap charge for a veteran signed to a minimum contract is the minimum salary of a player with two years experience plus bonus.

Continuing with Sims as an example, he is a seven-year veteran and recently signed a one-year, $870,000 contract, the minimum for a player with seven-to-nine years of experience, with $80,000 in bonuses. Instead of a $950,000 cap hit reflecting his salary plus bonus money, Sims’ cap charge is just $665,000, the minimum for a player with two years experience ($585,000) plus the bonus.

The ITP Glossary is curated by Mark BrownDave Archibald constructed this entry.

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