Ten days ago, the National Football Post ran an item that a few teams were leaving money on the table, so to speak, under the 2008 salary cap. I'll give you three guesses at naming one team included on this list. I'll even give you a hint: the owner of one of the teams very well may be a sociopath.
That's right, our very own Bengals were on the list! This may come as a shock to some of you, in the same way it would shock some that the sun rose in the east this morning and that Jay Leno is still unfunny.
It's a common misnomer that you cannot carry over unused salary cap space from year to year. Technically, this is true. If your cap charge in a given year is $100M and the salary cap is $120M, you don't get an extra $20M the next year. The trick is to give yourself a fake cap charge for the purposes of getting a cap credit the following year. This is done by writing Likely To Be Earned (LTBE) incentives in a player's contract that are impossible to earn. It's a common practice by almost all NFL teams. After all, there is almost no downside. Almost.
For the purposes of clarity, an example. Let's say, towards the end of the 2008 season, the Bengals realized that they were still $15M under the cap and wanted to carry that over into 2009. They could write a LTBE incentive into Carson's contract, stating that if he threw for 475 touchdowns in 2008, he'd get a $15M bonus. Obviously, this isn't "likely to be earned" by any stretch of the imagination. However, you can write any incentive bonus as LTBE, no matter how absurd. When you write said incentive bonus, it counts as a charge against the 2008 salary cap immediately. When the incentive is inevitably not met, the team gets a credit to the 2009 cap for that amount. Easy enough.
Now, I said there is almost no downside. For most teams, there wouldn't be. For Mr. Brown and his Bengals, it is a rather large downside. Along with a salary cap, there is a salary floor. I'm not sure of the exact figure, but for 2009 it will be somewhere around 86% of the salary cap for a given team. A higher salary cap means a higher salary floor. For most teams, that's not a problem. In the case of a $10M credit, it would mean the team must pay out in the neighborhood of $8.6M more in a given year. Some extra room to sign a young veteran (Jonathan Joseph perhaps) to a deserved extension without adversely affecting the 2009 cap. For the Bengals, well, it's a problem.
Hopefully you understood all that. If you didn't, here's the Cliff Notes: Mike Brown is a cheapass who hates you and you shouldn't support him with your hard earned cash. Bye for now.