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Salary Cap Guide by kcollins75

Version: 0.5 | Updated: 12/26/2003

Version 0.5

The ideas and text in this document are (C)2003 David K. Britz, GameFAQs Contributer.
Certain data, terms, and salary cap rules are property of the National Football League.
This document may be read and forwarded to other users as long as proper
credit is given to the author.  This guide may not be sold or mass-distributed
without prior permission.

Email:  dave_nospam-misc@yahoo.com

Hello all, and welcome to the first version of my guide to all you need to
know (and more) about the salary cap in the Madden 2004 franchise mode.  Note
that this is the first version, so some of this data is still a bit organized,
but I just wanted to "get it out there".  Future versions will have more
examples, more details, and a table of contents.


The salary cap refers to the total compensation that all the players on your team
can receive in a season.

Madden 2004 starts out with a salary cap of $75 Million, and increases at roughly
10% per year for subsequent seasons.  Prior versions of Madden had a simplified
salary cap system where you would sign a player to x dollars a year for y years.
This year's version models the NFL much closer, by including signing bonuses.

Contracts in Madden 2004 have 3 main components:  Contract Length, Total Salary,
and Signing Bonus.

A player's "cap value" is defined as the amount that his contract counts against
the salary cap for that season.  The cap value equals the salary that player
makes in the current year, plus a PRO-RATED amount of the signing bonus.  For
example, if you sign a player to a 3 year contract which includes a $3 Million
signing bonus, then $1M of that bonus will count toward the player's cap value
each year of the contract.


You can view any player's contract from the roster screen by going to player info
("Select" button on the PS2, and pressing R1 a couple of times to go to contract
info.) NOTE:  This window displays the player's ENTIRE contract, so even starting
out (2003 season) you might be in the middle of the current contract, so pay
attention to "# years" and "years left".  The contract just says "Year 1",
"Year 2", etc.  If you're not sure which is the current year, check the value for
"cap salary" (which is the same as the "cap value" I mentioned before.
This gives you the player's current year cap value, and you  can compare that to
the yearly cap totals at the bottom of the screen.

Note that when signing a player, you can only determine the TOTAL VALUE
(salary + bonus)of the contract, the number of years, and the amount of the
signing bonus.  The game automatically determines the year-by-year breakdown of
the salary.  How this is arrived at I do not know, and is beyond the scope of
this FAQ anyway.  I'll get more into signing bonuses later, but as you change the
signing bonus, the yearly salary (and thus the cap value per year) changes.  Keep
an eye on that as you toggle the bonus up and down.  There is an "optimal"
signing bonus.

Here's a sample contract that you might see in Madden 2004.
Note that I've filled in the years.  In the game you'll still just see "Year 1",
"Year 2", etc.

Year    Salary  Bonus   Total

2003    $1.82M  $1.50M  $3.32M
2004    $2.07M  $1.50M  $3.57M
2005    $2.69M  $1.50M  $4.19M
2006    $3.49M  $1.50M  $4.99M
2007    $4.54M  $1.50M  $6.04M
2008    $5.89M  $1.50M  $7.39M

Total contract value:  6 years, $29.5 Million, $9 Million Signing bonus.  Those
are the parameters you could control in the sign player screen.  The individual
year salaries are beyond your control.  The "Total" referred to above would be
the player's "cap value" for that season.  Again, the total cap values for all
the players cannot exceed the salary cap, that's basically how it works.


Now, on to the specifics of signing bonuses:

Why have a signing bonus?  Basically, because of the way the game calculates
salaries, bonuses are a good way of backloading contracts (putting more of the
cap value in later years), while keeping the player happy (thus more likely to
sign) by getting more money in the short term.  Moving the bonus value up and
down during a signing, you will find an "optimal" cap value for that player,
given the contract value and length.  This is what NFL teams often refer to as
a "cap friendly" contract.  You have to experiment to find out what it is.  Just
keep going up and down through the bonus values and keep an eye on the current
season cap value until you see it bottom out.

Now, that being said, you should be careful with bonuses.  I mentioned that a
player's cap value is based on a PRO-RATED so that it's cap value is split up
among the years of that player's contract.  In the real NFL, the player would
receive ALL the bonus money up front, but to allow for the salary cap, the NFL
lets players "count" the cap in this manner.  The major disadvantage with
bonueses is that if a player leaves your team for any reason  - if you cut the
player, trade him or he retires, any remaining portion of that bonus still counts
against your team's salary cap.  This is called a "cap penalty".  Each season you
may have a "cap penalty" that will count against your cap, which will be based on
any players leaving your team during the previous season.  Any remaining BONUS
money (not salary, that goes away) on that player's contract gets accelerated
into the next season.  For example, take our sample contract above.

Year    Salary   Bonus   Total

2003    $1.82M  $1.50M  $3.32M
2004    $2.07M  $1.50M  $3.57M
2005    $2.69M  $1.50M  $4.19M
2006    $3.49M  $1.50M  $4.99M
2007    $4.54M  $1.50M  $6.04M
2008    $5.89M  $1.50M  $7.39M

Let's say we're in the 2006 season and we decide to cut this player.  His
original signing bonus is $9M, which is counted over 6 years at $1.5M per
year.  There are 3 years remaining (the current year counts), therefore there
is a pro-rated bonus remaining of $1.5 x 3 = $4.5 Million.  That $4.5 Million
will be added to our cap penalty for the 2007 season.  The cap penalty is money
that counts against your cap even though it's not tied to any specific player.
If the salary cap for 2007 is $110 Million, then we effectively would have a
cap of $110M-$4.5M = $105.5 million.  So you can see that giving large bonuses
to players who are not likely to be with your team in the long-run, older players
 with declining ratings, or players that are near retirement, is a risky
proposition.  Often if a 10-year veteran is demanding a large signing bonus,
it's probably best to let that player move on.  This is how real NFL teams get
into "salary cap trouble."  They give large contracts to veterans who aren't
worth that money.  Then when those players retire or get cut, the teams wind up
with huge cap penalties that severely hurt their ability to sign free agents.

It's generally wise, during the off-season re-signing of your free-agents, to
leave about $8 million of cap room available.  In early seasons, you'll need at
least $5-6 million to sign draft picks (assuming 1 pick per round), and may need
to pick up a couple of free agents from other teams to fill team needs or to fill
the roster.  Remember, you can't ever go above 55 players on a roster in Madden
so if you have more than 48 players under contract going into the draft, you may
not be able to sign all your draft picks because you run out of roster room.
Only players that are signed are under contract.  If a player has "0 years
remaining" then they are not considered under contract, and do not count toward
this 55 player limit until they are signed.  Occasionally players currently under
 contract may hold out for more money.  They're not counted toward the player
limit either, but will not be available to your team until you re-sign them, or
the end of that season.  I'll have more on holdouts in a later FAQ version.


Occasionally you may want to re-sign a player currently under contract.
This could happen for two reasons:  1) You're trying to free up space and maybe
this is a declining player who is willing to re-negotiate to a lower or more
cap-friendly contract.  (2) You know this player is in the last year of his
current contract, headed for a breakout year, and you want to sign him NOW before
the price goes way up.

In terms of signing bonuses and the salary cap in regards to signing players
currently under contract, there are no cap penalties for re-negotiating, even
if the new signing bonus is lower or the contract length shortened.  However,
you should be aware that once a player signs a contract involving a signing bonus,
that bonus money becomes permanent until the contract expires.  So if you sign a
currently-contracted player to a new contract, the new signing bonus will
effectively INCLUDE the old signing bonus.  So if you're negotiating a contract
that had a $1M signing bonus, and the new contract has a $2.5M signing bonus,
then that new contract will have an effective signing bonus of $1.0M + $2.5M =

Below is an example:

OLD CONTRACT (3 years $3M, $900K Bonus):

Year    Salary  Bonus   Total
2003    $600K   $300K   $900K
2004    $700K   $300K   $1.00M
2005    $800K   $300K   $1.10M

Now suppose you know it's 2004 and this player's going to be a hot free-agent
item, so you want to wrap him up long-term.  You propose a 5 year $15M contract
with a $3 million bonus.

Year    Salary  Bonus   Total
2004    $1.75M  $600K   $2.35M
2005    $2.00M  $600K   $2.60M
2006    $2.25M  $600K   $2.85M
2007    $2.75M  $600K   $3.35M
2008    $3.25M  $600K   $3.85M

This contract would NOT result in a cap penalty.  What would happen is that the
salaries would be replaced, and the new signing bonus ($3 million) would be added
on to the remaining portion of the bonus from the old contract ($300K+300K=$600K),
for a total of $3.6 million.  That bonus will then be divided among the new five
year contract, so the new contract would in effect show up as follows:

Year    Salary  Bonus   Total
2004    $1.75M  $720K   $2.47M
2005    $2.00M  $720K   $2.72M
2006    $2.25M  $720K   $2.97M
2007    $2.75M  $720K   $3.47M
2008    $3.25M  $720K   $3.97M

As you can see, although the bonus money is combined, there is a benefit to
restructuring contracts.  Real NFL teams will often do this to get a player's
contract to be more "cap-friendly", or to count less against a year's cap, even
though they're being paid the same, or more.

Note that suppose the 2nd contract were given AFTER the first one expired.  The
resulting bonus would have been $3 million over 5 years, or $600K per year.
However, since we re-structured an existing contract, the cap number for each
year is only $120K more per year than it would have been had the new contract NOT
replaced an existing contract.

restructuring contracts.  If the new contract is a longer length, you can spread
existing signing bonuses over longer periods of time!  Just be careful again,
like I said before, that you don't give a huge contract for someone who will
probably not be with your team for long.  If the above player retires after the
2004 season, that's a hit of $720K x 4 = $2.88 million against your 2005 cap
penalty.  So just beware.

This concludes this verion of the Madden 2004 Salary Cap guide.  I hope to add
some more tips and examples in a later revision.  Thank you for reading!

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