There has been a lot of talk about Miller's enormous cap hit next season and how it might impact the Seahawks decisions this offseason. Miller has not provided great statistics, but anyone who follows the team closely can see the impact he brings. If let go, his absence would be felt, so it's not a cut and dry decision. Today I looked up Miller's contract details, and something kind of jumped out at me when I looked at it:
2011: $3 million
2012: $7 million
2013: $9 million ($2 million guaranteed + 200k workout bonus)
2014: $7.5 million ($2.5 million guaranteed + 200k workout bonus)
2015: $7.5 million ($4.5 million guaranteed + 200k workout bonus)
The thing about these numbers- it's really just 2013 that is tough to stomach on Miller's contract. His 2011 season was a bargain, and the 2012, 2014, and 2015 seasons are high but reasonably so.
Normally backloaded contracts don't look like this- usually the most expensive years come at the very end and the player usually doesn't see that money- Trufant and Hill's contracts being examples of that. Why the spike in year 3? Actually, there's a pretty good reason why.
The new CBA rules in 2011 (Miller signed this deal just days after the labor dispute ended) allowed for a cap rollover in 2011 and 2012. At the time, Seattle had a ton of money under the cap, and then rolled that money over into 2012- making them one of the best cap friendly teams in the league earlier this year. That money will roll over one more time after this season and into 2013's budget- which explains the urgency behind trading T-jack (owed $4 million) and releasing Kellen Winslow (going from memory I think he was owed $3 million this year).
Anyway, when Seattle signed Miller in 2011, all signs pointed to them having a MOUNTAIN of money in 2013. I don't think they expected to splurge on Matt Flynn nor did they expect Red Bryant to become a $7 million per year player. Therefore, it's reasonable to look at this evidence and see a contract where Seattle actually planned on paying Miller that $9 million all along- because at the time they signed the deal they anticipated having more money than they knew what to do with in 2013. It's actually a very smart use of resources, IMO.
Seattle still has the money to pay for Miller's giant 2013 salary, but they've not left themselves much room for anything else. That could get interesting as this has a chance to be the best offseason for free agent WRs in a good long while.
Does Seattle just eat the 2013 cap hit and maybe miss out on some big name WRs? I'm starting to think that just maybe they are. Even if they released Miller right now, they'd still owe him $9 million in dead money over the next three years- that's still a majority of his guaranteed $17 million. So it's not just like it's all lolipops if we let Miller go. When you factor the price of paying for his replacement and couple it with the dead money, releasing him would hurt almost as much as keeping him would. That strikes me as being by design. What Miller's contract tells me is that this FO sees Miller as being here for the long haul, and that his huge 2013 cap number is probably based on a calculated financial decision made a couple years ahead of time to take advantage of what they thought would be a massive amount of cash to spend in 2013. It wouldn't be the first time this FO made a decision that was looking beyond year one.