Vested Veteran Salary Guarantees

A handful of veteran players were cut from their teams’ respective rosters today, and while different clubs have different reasons for shuffling their rosters, the looming vested veteran guarantee may have played a part in many of those moves. A vested veteran, or a player with at least four years of NFL experience, will have his 2014 base salary guaranteed for the year if he’s on an NFL team’s roster for the first game of the season.

That means that if a team decided after Week 1 to part ways with a veteran player with a 2014 base salary of $1MM, the team would still be on the hook for that full $1MM, which would count against the cap. A veteran who has received this form of termination pay in the past wouldn’t be eligible to receive it again, but otherwise the player can put in a claim for his full salary and receive it. Veterans not a Week 1 roster don’t benefit from that provision, however.

If a player is signed during the season, following a team’s first game, and is later released, he’s only entitled to 25% of his full-season salary. For instance, let’s say a team signed a player in Week 2 for a full-year salary of $1.02MM. First, that salary would be prorated for 16 weeks, meaning it’d be worth $960K. If a player is cut shortly after signing, he’d receive 25% of that amount, or $240K. If the player is released within four weeks of signing, he’d only count for $240K against his team’s cap, rather than the amount of his full salary.

As such, we could see veteran players who were released by teams within the last few days re-sign with those clubs next week, when their full-season salaries will no longer be guaranteed and teams can retain maximum roster flexibility.

Note: This is a PFR Glossary entry. Our glossary posts will explain specific rules relating to free agency, trades, or other aspects of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Information from Over The Cap was used in the creation of this post.

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