Tackle Jake Long has the opportunity to make a lot of money if he plays all the seasons on his four-year contract with the St. Louis Rams. However, the team also has some safeguards in the contract in the event injuries continue and his performance suffers, as it did the past two seasons with the Miami Dolphins.
Long missed a total of six games the last two years, including four in 2012.
As originally advertised, Long's deal is worth $34 million in base terms over four years. However, while $20 million could end up being guaranteed, as of now only $12 million is fully guaranteed. In reality, he received a two-year, $16 million contract. Long received a signing bonus of $5 million, and his $3 million base salary for 2013 is fully guaranteed. With the bonus prorated over four years, his salary-cap charge for this year is $4.25 million.
The remainder of his salaries are $8 million in 2014, $9.25 million in 2015 and $8.75 million in 2016. The $8 million salary in 2014 is guaranteed for skill only, but only $4 million is currently guaranteed for injury. That $4 million becomes guaranteed if he is on the Rams' roster on the final day of the 2013 league year, which would be next March.
Another $4 million of his 2015 salary would be guaranteed if he is on the roster on the fifth day of the 2015 league year.
Long can also earn another $2.5 million over the life of the contract in incentives and escalators. There are $375,000 in unlikely-to-be-earned incentives each year for playing time, playoffs and Pro Bowls. In addition, there are escalators up to $400,000 in 2015 and $600,000 in 2016 based on playing time.
Even assuming Long receives the additional $4 million guaranteed in 2014, if his play isn't what the Rams expect during the next two seasons, they could terminate the contract in March 2015, having paid him $16 million and responsible for only $2.5 million of signing bonus money that would accelerate onto that year's cap.