Yesterday, the Miami Dolphins and linebacker Cameron Wake agreed to a 4-year, $49 million contract extension. The deal includes $20 million in guaranteed money, and adds on to his existing deal, in which he is going to make $665,000 this season. With the deal, Wake moved from making a quarter of what kicker Dan Carpenter makes for the Dolphins to among the top pass-rushers in the league.
But, where exactly does he stand compared to those top-paid pass rushers?
Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post made that exact comparison. Volin looks at the $20 million guaranteed money, which is the only money Wake can count on receiving. Of the caparison, Volin writes:
"The $49 million number looks flashy, but the real number to focus on is the $20 million in guaranteed moneyhe will receive no matter what happens. Many contracts are back-loaded with high base salaries that the team knows it will never pay. The money the player gets up front, and is guaranteed in his contract, is a much better indicator of the player's worth.
"Looking at total guaranteed money, Wake received a large amount, but certainly not game-changing. Here are the top current guarantees given to pass rushers (defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers). Since Wake has five years remaining on his contract, we're calling it a five-year contract for the purposes of this chart, and adding his 2012 salary ($665,000) to the $20 million guaranteed."
Volin then provides a look at the top 20 pass rush guaranteed contract numbers:
1. Mario Williams (2012) - $50 million over 6 years2. Elvis Dumervil (2010) - $43.156 million over 6 years3. Julius Peppers (2010) - $42 million over 6 years4. DeMarcus Ware (2009) - $40 million over 7 years5. Terrell Suggs (2009) - $38.1 million over 6 years6. Tamba Hali (2011) - $35 million over 5 years7. Charles Johnson (2011) - $32 million over 6 years8. Jared Allen (2008) - $31 million over 6 years9. Dwight Freeney (2007) - $30 million over 6 years10. Lamarr Woodley (2011) - $22.5 million over 6 years*11. Calvin Pace (2008) - $21.5 million over 6 years12. Cameron Wake (2012) - $20.665 million over 5 years12. James Harrison (2009) - $20 million over 6 years12. Justin Smith (2008) - $20 million over 6 years15. Robert Mathis (2012) - $17 million over 4 years16. Chris Canty (2009) - $16 million over 6 years17. Trent Cole (2012) - $15 million over 6 years18. Red Bryant (2012) - $14.5 million over 5 years19. Antonio Smith (2009) - $12.5 million over 5 years20. Kyle Vanden Bosch (2010) - $10 million over 4 years
* Recently agreed to restructure his contract to provide the Steelers with salary cap relief. Woodley agreed to lower his base salary and convert it into bonuses.
Note I: Franchise tagged defensive ends (Calais Campbell, Cliff Avril) make $10.6 million in 2012, while linebackers make $8.8 million.
Note II: Three pass rushers who signed large rookie contracts under the previous CBA were not included - Chris Long, Tyson Jackson and Brian Orakpo.
Volin also goes on to take a look at the average guaranteed money per year of the contract, which moves Wake from 12th to 11th in the league. Wake deserved to be paid, and has performed at levels capable of putting him in the Mario Williams, Julius Peppers, Tamba Hali neighborhood of pay, but his age works against him. Wake, who just recently turned 30, did come in as the best paid pass rusher not named Mario Williams this offseason.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins showed they would pay a player who outperforms his contract, locked up their top pass rushers through 2016, and got the workout warrior back into the offseason training program.
It really does appear that everyone won in this instance.