Tennessee Titans: A Salary Cap Primer

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Sep 29, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans defensive end Ropati Pitoitua (92) sacks New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Ropati Pitoitua: A Test Case

Pitoitua signed a one-year, prove-it deal with Tennessee in 2013, and he proved it. The Titans were wise to make him a priority this offseason. How did they do on the contract?

Pitoitua and the Titans agreed to a 3-year, $9.6 million contract, with only his $2,175,000 signing bonus in guaranteed money.

Breaking it down (2014):

Pitoitua has a meager $975,000 base salary and a $250,000 bonus coming his way this year. Also, $725,000 of his signing bonus counts against the cap for 2014. This makes his cap number $1.95 million for 2014.

How does his cap number compare? He ranks as the 50th largest NFL defensive end cap number. 16 slots behind Derrick Morgan ($3.5 million) and 37 slots behind Kamerion Wimbley ($7.8 million).

Breaking it down (2015):

Pitoitua’s cap number will increase to $3.7 million in 2015. This is almost a $2 million jump, but if he proves it again in 2014, he is certainly worth the paycheck. If he does not prove it and 2013 was an aberration, the Titans could cut Pitoitua next offseason and eat $1.45 million in dead money.

Grading it out: 7/10 – it is important to create a culture where the players that sign one-year, prove-it deals get rewarded when they prove it. Pitoitua was a very effective run-stopper in 2013 and may prove even more important in Ray Horton’s new 3-4 hybrid defense.

His cap number does not exceed $4 million in any of his three years. If his level of play remains consistent, it should be very manageable to keep Pitoitua around without causing a budget strain.

After the 2014 season, his dead money figure is below $1.5 million. If his play were to fall off, it is very manageable to cut him without causing much of an issue. This is a win for the Titans and a win for Pitoitua as long as he continues to bring the goods.

Look for more salary cap pieces in the near future from @titanchaps. Let me know what you think on twitter or in the comments section below.