Making Financial Sense of Trading-Deadline Moves

This year’s trading deadline was highly anticipated because of the expected movement. The flurry of activity in the hours leading up to Tuesday’s deadline didn’t disappoint.

Here’s a look at the financial ramifications of the five deals made as the trading period ended. A team acquiring a player needed enough salary-cap room to absorb the remainder of his current salary. Since the trades occurred trade after Week Eight’s games, the acquiring team is be responsible for 9/17th of a player’s 2018 base salary and any other applicable salary components in his contract. Trades can’t be executed again until the 2019 league year begins on March 13 at 4 pm eastern time.

Golden Tate (WR): To Philadelphia Eagles From Detroit Lions

Trade Compensation: 2019 Third Round Pick

Remaining 2018 Salary: $3,705,882 (Lions 2018 Salary Cap Savings)
Eagles Current Cap Room: $6.34 Million
Lions 2019 Dead Money: None (Expiring Contract)

Eagles executive vice-president of football operations Howie Roseman making some sort of trading deadline deal shouldn’t come as surprise. He has been one of the most active NFL front office executives in the trade market over the last couple of years.

The Lions had shown little interest in giving Tate the contract extension he had long desired. Tate has clearly outperformed the five-year, $31 million deal he signed in 2014. Since the start of the 2014 season, Tate is sixth in the NFL with 416 receptions and 10th with 4,741 receiving yards.

Tate’s arrival could be to the detriment of Nelson Agholor. Tate, 30, excels in the slot where Agholor has been most effective over the last two seasons.

It’s hard to imagine Tate being more than a rental because of his expected contract demands and Philadelphia’s salary cap situation. The Eagles have the NFL’s second most 2019 cap commitments at $208.4 million with 44 players under contract. The top 51 cap numbers matter under offseason cap accounting rules. The 2019 salary cap will be in the $190 million neighborhood with a similar increase as in recent years.

There are natural exits points with several of Philadelphia’s contracts. For example, declining the 2019 options on quarterback Nick Foles and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan while also releasing left tackle Jason Peters would collectively create $36.3 million of cap space.

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery’s $11.75 million 2019 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The four-year, $52 million extension with slightly more than $27.25 million in guarantees Jeffery signed late in the 2017 season could be an important data point for Tate.

A lack of significant cap space should prevent the Eagles from being major players in free agency during the offseason. If Tate can sign a lucrative free agent contract, the third-round pick given up for him could be offset by the compensatory pick received in 2020. There’s a chance it could be the maximum of a third round pick but more likely a fourth round draft choice. The Lions were less likely to receive the same type of compensation as the Eagles if Tate had left after playing out his contract because of being in better cap space for free agency.

Demaryius Thomas (WR): To Houston Texans From Denver Broncos

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