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Flutie Deal Makes Sense
Breakdown of Contract Shows Butler knows what he's doing.
by Steve Saslow

There are many people who are wondering how the Bills can give a 37 year old quarterback a 4 year deal for $22 Million. The reasoning is that the club is already up against the cap and have many potential free agents next year to re-sign. Another concern is where does this leave Rob Johnson's future with the team, since both contracts will expire the same season.

The key thing to do is breakdown the contract by years. Flutie will get a $6 Million signing bonus and a salary of only $400,000 this season. The pro rated part of the bonus and salary that counts against this season's cap is just $1.9 Million. He would have received $3 Million under the old deal, so the new mega contract saves the club $1.1 Million towards the cap that the club can use to help sign Ken Irvin's deal or actually sign another team's free agent, maybe a pass rusher or cornerback. The big money years in the deal are the third and fourth years which have Flutie making $5.5 Million and $7 Million respectively. Now there is no way he will be collecting $12.5 Million when he's 40 and 41 years old and he knows this, that is why he got the large signing bonus. If his skills diminish and Johnson proves to be a big league QB then Flutie will be gone after the two years or have the contract restructured. If he's gone after two years the only cap figure the Bills will be stuck with is the $3 Million left of the amortized bonus, if he's gone after three years then they are stuck with $1.5 Million toward the cap. This is a significant amount of money but not nearly as bad as the annual salary he would make in those years. It is also a small price to pay to have the security of a Doug Flutie as either the starter or the backup to an improving Johnson.

So it is obvious that financially this is a good deal for the club even though they are paying an average of more than $10 Million a year on two QBs. There are many clubs that don't even have one solid starting QB and the Bills have two. The one question that remains is where does this leave Johnson? Owner Ralph Wilson has said that Johnson will remain a bill and that is a smart move, especially since it wouldn't be cap effective to trade him anyway. Flutie is aging and Johnson has played well but has yet to prove he can stay healthy, so keeping both of them gives the team an unbeatable one-two punch. Johnson has accepted the fact that he will probably be backing up Flutie when the season starts, but that can change. Financially they are on pretty even ground, so the pressure is off making Johnson number one. There is always the chance that Flutie goes down and Johnson takes over and never relinquishes the job like Flutie did last year, so who knows? It's nice to have the option between Flutie and Johnson afterall, we could go back to 1996 and have the Collins vs. Van Pelt debate again.

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