Both Talib and the Patriots have said that they would like to see Talib in a Patriots' uniform next season. While they both want the same thing, they also both need to be happy with any deal that is made. In other words Talib needs to get paid what he is worth, but not overpaid.
Unlike some other leagues, the NFL has a hard salary cap. The Patriots don't have much room to work with next year partially because of the Aaron Hernandez situation and the fact that $7.5 million of next year's salary is dead money which is considered his. Although there is a chance that the Patriots will get this cap space back eventually, they can by no means anticipate it.
So, how are the Patriots going to keep their shutdown cornerback and stay under cap? In my opinion the only way this is going to happen is by getting creative. Now, I am by no means an expert on NFL contracts and have no idea if certain things are completely off limits when drafting an NFL contract. Here are some of my thoughts:
- Instead of having bonus money attached to his 2014 salary, have it attached to his base salary starting in 2015. If he doesn't earn the bonus then he has the same option to earn it the following year.
- Include bonuses for games played in the season (once earned becomes part of base and incentive no longer has to met for continuance)
- Include bonuses for being an All-Pro (once earned becomes part of base- could be earned each year)
- Include bonuses for playoff wins he participates in (gets added to base for following year) (has opportunity to do this every year)
When it comes to guaranteed money they could guarantee the first two years and any bonuses earned. Based on the the above situation the contract would start with a guarantee of $18.5 million. If he earned the bonuses for the first year he would then be guaranteed an additional $7 million for the 2016 and 2017 bonus earned.
Obviously I'm just throwing around some numbers and ideas which I think would serve as a starting point for setting up a "win-win" situation for both the Patriots and Aqib Talib.