Browns are fine for the 89% cap floor.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots

Joe Haden’s big signing bonus last year was smart and positions Browns well for aggregate cash spending.

A couple weeks ago I thought I was on the scent of a brewing scandal and was poised to unleash a low-grade rant.  Subject was the four year 89% cap spend floor and the Browns’ prospective failure to hit it.  It turned out I was entirely wrong with my premise (the Browns are in good shape w.r.t. the floor as explained below) and so then I sat on the news.

That’s not sporting is it?  So here’s the post.

In the outfall of Jimmy’s private presser with his hand-picked journos and with all the attention spent on Jimmy’s ignorance of his first round QB’s scouting report and the contents of his GM’s texts which herald fines and lost draft picks… as well as his blessing to have lots of intelligent people in rooms weighing in on any old topic since they’re so intelligent and such…1

Lost in all that was Jimmy’s statement the Browns would be “not a player in free agency.”

We’re way under the cap now, we were way under the cap last year, and the year before that.

Wait:  Isn’t there a floor wherein the aggregate over so many years spend has to total some percentage of the aggregate total?

Wasn’t I pounding the table on this thing a couple years ago?  And then wasn’t I chastened because I was operating on bad data when I learned that rollovers were ok and the floor is basically spread out over time?

Yeah, that all rings bells.  So rather than be wrong and guessing, this time we’re going to the source.2

Dig into the CBA.

Here’s the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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Let me try to wade through this dense doc and pick out the relevant info and offer a translation.

Page 61 is “Article 12 Revenue Accounting and Calculation of the Salary Cap.” Basically they’re defining ‘All Revenue’ (AR) and ensuring a percentage of AR is fed to players as ‘Player Cost Amount’ (PCA).

Skip to page 77 and there’s “Section 6. Calculation of Player Cost Amount and Salary Cap.” Page 80, (c. i.) tells us PCA = 55% of NFL Media + 45% of jerseys and such as + 40% of local media + 50% of new revenue streams.

An interesting note is found right below (p. 80, c. iii.) on “Bands” and “Stadium Credit.” The net here is that Stadium Credit costs seem to be divert money away from players. Since I’m not 100% on this, I’ll leave it alone but will bookmark in my mind that your sin tax dollars for scoreboards probably mean Jimmy is less compelled to spend in free agency and also that monies spent on escalators mean less monies for NFLPA members.

The 89% floor.

Here’s the key section for this discussion.

Page 84:  “Minimum Team Cash Spending.” Every four years, teams need to ‘true-up’ with their spend and ensure they have spent up to at least 89% of the previous four years of cap.

The NFL cap from 2013-2016 looks to be in the $550M range; 89% would be ~490M.

Browns spent 94.6 in 2013. 112.2 in 2014…

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“Browns spend” using Cap hit numbers. Looks grim.

Wait is the data correct?  What numbers should I be looking at?

Enter Jason from

At this point I’m first realizing that I’m out on thin ice. That’s because there are cap spend numbers but also cash spend numbers.

So I reached out to the proprietor of, and Jason replied and walked me through the subject so clearly that it’s worth posting our exchange here for everyone’s edification.

Me:  Hi Jason, appreciate your work at OTC.  I’m trying to get my arms around the Browns cap sending and specifically with regard to the 89% rule.

If I’m reading the CBA correctly, teams have to spend up to 89% of the sum of the salary caps from 2013-2016.  Using the OTC NFL cap numbers of 123, 133, 140, and 150; 89% of that sum is 485.9M.  The Browns’ cap spend (again using OTC numbers) has been 2013-94.6, 2014-112.2, 2015-107.0 (projected).

Based on these numbers, am I correct in thinking the Browns will need to spend 172.1M in cap in 2016 either through players signings or else they cut checks to get them up to that number to members of the current roster?  Or am I missing something… like does the dead money factor into this somehow?

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 6.34.43 AM

Basically 0% chance that the Browns will fail to reach the floor.

His response.

Jason:  Hi Mike.  The actual numbers you need to look at for this are cash spending rather than cap spending. The floor is designed such that the team spends 89% of the cap limit in actual cash payments.

I have to check how we have the calculations set up right now (everything is set to top 51 on the cap charts so it understates 2013/14, but I cant recall how the cash ones are set up). But for the Browns I know that spending is not an issue.
In 2013 their official spend was around $107 million. In 2014 they had one of the highest payrolls in the NFL around $148 million. The reason it was so high was because they had the two first round draft picks, the extension for Haden, and a pretty large salary for Alex Mack.

So they are basically right at 100% spending right now. They only need to spend around $95 million in cash to stay on the 89% mark. They are almost already there and thats before the draft where they again have two first rounders. Those two firsts will lock them into another $11 million in salary.

So when he says he’s not spending its likely because he realizes they can play at the minimum from this point forward and not have issues with that 89% rule.

How cool is that?


This would be speck tack…

So thanks Jason for this info and I’m sorry readers for not posting this initially largely because it wasn’t bad news.

What the hell is my problem?

On the logo.

Just a quickie on the logo and uniform happenings.  Browns announce a new logo today.  If they actually pull off an understated Paul Brown inspired logo like at right, I’d be shocked and happy.

I don’t expect to be shocked or happy.


… and this would be fine.

I expect something more like this.

And that would be fine.

But I am resigned to the change and all we can do is wait and see.

Update: here’s the new logos.

191703814_142d3cf15a_oFirst take: this orange makes my retinas hurt. The guess here is that every minute Alec Scheiner wasn’t helicoptering Shannahan about how to apply analytics to ZBS efficacy was spent frantically attempting to conjure how to inject a cool not-found-in-nature accent piping like the Seahawks have.

Let’s just be glad it’s not 1992 because if it were you can bet Alexander Julian would have been consulted on how best to use teal and purple.

As for the Dawg Pound logo,,, just whatever.  The misspelled DAWG is an affectation that has never sat well here so I’m obviously the wrong person to ask.

And finally:  how come you spend on this money on branding and mulling over the facemask and then not manage to use an accurate facemask?  There’s no double bar grill in real facemasks.  See the Haden picture up top and use that one.  Cripes.



Wait.  One more point about the color change:  Bengals much?

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  1. From Tony Pauline yesterday:  “… I’m told its not happy times for the Browns front office. People familiar with the situation have compared the present situation in Berea to the one that’s taken place in San Francisco the past three years. I’m told there’s a lot of dissension in the Browns front office and people are not working well together and are not fond of each other.” [back]
  2. Or alternatively, I could’ve simply re-read Pokorny’s excellent piece on this subject from last year found here. [back]
  • actovegin1armstrong

    Will the Browns have any chance to get Jalen Collins, or Lael Collins? I want one of the Collins boys this year!

  • mgbode

    thanks for breaking down the cap floor, I was curious to how that was going to play out.

  • humboldt

    Mike, good points re: the facemask. The whole helmet (shape, facemask, chin strap placement, etc.) still looks like a relic of the late ’80s, early ’90s. If you were going to modernize, why not update these features that are ubiquitous in contemporary football rather than sticking w/ a helmet design from a random bygone era of the NFL in which we never actually won anything?

    And yet, as I type this I’m thinking there was another way of approaching the redesign issue from a more nostalgic perspective. Why not go all the way back to the original mid-20th century football helmets and simply add a one-bar facemask to symbolize one of Paul Brown’s many contributions to the game, as well as to invoke one of our greatest HOF players (Otto Graham). (Bonus: Could also add a subtle touch inside the helmet to denote the radio mechanism Brown invented).

    That, to me, would be a bold step forward that kept the helmet as the primary symbol of the team and yet imbued it with historical meaning and gravitas. But what do I know, I don’t get paid to think about these things, and I’ve never presented at Sloan…

    • you what’s messd up about all this?
      pretty sure the browns only have orange as a color because they had training camp at BGSU way back when.

      • humboldt

        I know it’s an annoying cliche to say that ‘a camel is a horse designed by a committee’ but it sure feels more and more like this 2-year focus group extravaganza is a case in point.

      • mgbode

        I thought Paul Brown is the one that pushed for Orange because of Massillon?

    • Tron

      That would be amazing. You’re obviously too smart to work at Nike.

      • humboldt

        And Adidas. Maybe Reebok though…

        Joking aside, it does bother me that people given TWO YEARS to spitball innovative ideas and find something that both honors the past and moves the franchise forward came up with something so profoundly underwhelming.

        • Tron

          Honestly, it’s mind-boggling how horrible of a franchise the Browns are. It’s really depressing.

  • maxfnmloans

    Here’s the deal with the logo…if the Helmet doesn’t change (I don’t consider facemask color a “change”…it is, technically speaking, but it does not represent some kind of seismic shift), then what do I care if they want to conjure up some new iconography to try and sell more merch? I don’t think it’s leaked yet, I don’t think the Paul Brown/Joker business is happening. I think, if anything, its going to be a stylized “C”, which, whoop dee doo. Gotta maximize revenue streams to pay for Federal indictment defenses, yo! Suboptimal, sure, but it is what it is. I’m not going to be “angry man shouts at cloud” today.
    Also, I saw yesterday on Twitter that a non Jason LaCanfora national football writer (I forget who, Sobleski re-tweeted whoever it was) basically confirmed the front office struggle for the Browns is real, and worse than what JLC let on. My first reaction is “ugh”. My second reaction is I want to know where the strife is…between Farmer and Pettine? Between Farmer and Scheiner? I guess the reason I want to draw the distinction is because so long as Farmer and Pettine are working in symbiosis, the rest of it is just noise. Maybe we all get lucky, the new logo goes over like a led zeppelin, and Scheiner takes the rap for it since “maximizing revenue streams” seems to be his bailiwick.
    Of course, this is Cleveland, so watch out for falling anvils.

    • you’re thinking of tony pauline but whose report was seconded by sobleski and adkins. linked in the footnotes.

      yep. the only impact here would be that i might have to change my banner since i’m using the official browns pantone color codes. SEAL BROWN 4EVA.

      • maxfnmloans

        aaaaand…I guess they’ve don’t their jobs by keeping themselves in the fans’ conversations over the past few weeks, even if it was all much adoo about nothing

        • how many sleepless nights did scheiner have trying to shoehorn some kind of neon accent piping into this scheme? many, i’d wager.

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