Percentage of the Cap

It’s still hard to find too many details about Peyton Manning’s new deal, but one aspect of the deal that hasn’t been talked about too much is the percentage of the salary cap that will be taken up by Manning over the next five years.

This chart shows what percentage of the cap has been occupied by Manning over the course of his career:

98 4%
99 3.7%
00 10.8%
01 12.6%
02 14.5%
03 20.5%
04 10.3%
05 9.8%
06 10.4%
07 7.5%
08 16.1%
09 16.6%
10 No cap
11 13%

Going forward, the NFL has proposed seemingly conservative revenue projections at 4% growth, though a new TV deal is coming in 2014 which could lead to massive growth in the cap. The cap hasn’t grown by as little as 4% since 1996 and 1997.  If the cap does grow by 4% steadily (and I expect much more), then the cap percentage of his deal will likely stay manageable.

If Joe Baker’s projection is even a little close (and it seems like a reasonable guess), Manning’s cap number will likely not increase by more than a million a year, and not more than 3 million over the course of the deal. That means that even as his cap number goes up, his deal won’t occupy too much more of the cap as a percentage of the whole.

No matter how the final deal breaks down, the known constraints ($69 million in years 1-3, $16 million cap number this year, and $90 million overall) make it so the numbers can only be carved up so many ways. The deal averages $18 million a year, and with a $16 million cap number this season, it’s a safe bet that the Manning’s cap number won’t get much past the $20 million mark at any point in the deal.

Even if the cap just rises 4% a year and Manning’s number tops out at $20 million in year 5, he’d only be occupying about 14.6 of the cap. That’s only a touch above his current career average of 12%. If the cap goes up more than 4% a year, Manning’s overall cap percentage could drop below the 10% mark.

No matter how you slice it, this is a great deal for the Colts and provides better flexibility than they’ve had since 2007.

My thanks to Eliah M for his help on this piece.