It’s all about the Harrisons, baby

As we all await with bated breath the outcome of the Kelvin Hayden talks, it’s time focus our attention on the math involving #88.  Remember the math with player contracts is always a little fuzzy, so take the numbers with a grain of salt.  The principles are sound, however.

In simple terms, the Colts still owe $7 million in guaranteed money to Harrison.  Under the old rules, the Colts could cut Marvin outright, and divide that money over two years.  He’d basically have a cap figure of $3.5 million each year.  Because the CBA expired, however, that isn’t an option.  The rules have changed.  Now, any outstanding money owed a player counts entirely toward the 2009 season. 

That means that the Colts have three choices:
1.  Keep Marvin and pay him around $13.5 million next year.
2.  Cut Marv and save his salary, but take the full hit for his outstanding cap money.  This is the cheapest move in ‘real dollars’.  That is to say, the Colts wouldn’t have to pay Harrison anything more than their sunk costs.

It’s the third option that interests us:  the Colts can renegotiate the deal with Harrison.

It works basically like this:

By keeping Harrison under contract, the Colts don’t have to account for the whole $7 million he’s owed all at once.  They can divide it up over the life of the contract.  So, if they redo a three year deal with Marvin, the cap hit would be $2.3 million ($7 Million/3 years) PLUS whatever salary they negotiate with him.  So, if Harrison agreed to play for $2 million a year, his cap number would be $4.3 million next year instead of $7 million.  Yes, that’s right, by paying 88 an extra $2 million, his cap number could DROP by about $2.7 million.

The club has to decide if it is worth it to keep Marvin and give him more real money to save cap room.  The cap is likely never coming back after this year, so a move to buy time to survive this last cap squeezed year could pay off.  However, with the economic instability, just throwing a couple of million dollars at a player they might want to cut could be too big a ‘real’ price to pay.  If the cap does return, they will likely have to account for the outstanding money owed to Marvin eventually…just not all at once, and not right now.

Marvin has to decide what price is worth it to him to return to the team at.  He can decide he’ll make more money with another club, and in that case, he’ll be glad to get cut.  He can decide that it’s not worth it to play for a small deal ($1-2 million) and retire completely.  He can also decide that a million bucks is a lot of money and come back to the team he’s always been comfortable at.  If he still wants to play, I can’t imagine him going to another team and dealing with the media there.  I doubt anyone else will pay him more than a million or two either.

My gut tells me that the Colts want Marv back, but only at the right price.  I can’t see him getting more than a couple million dollars (including any new bonus money).  Let’s hope he’s willing to play for that.

LA Jags!  LA Jags! 

For those that care, here’s the CHFF forum discussion of Apples to Apples.  I jump in on the last couple of pages.