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Miller Time

June 26, 2001 by Steel Phantom

The Stillers show Josh the money:

The Stillers show Josh the money:


As is widely known now, Josh Miller received a 5-year extension at $5.6M.That figure includes a $1.1M bonus.Miller was in the last year of a deal that was superceded by this new agreement.In essence then, Josh�s deal is for 6 years (including 2001) at $6.425M.While this seems like huge money for a player you�d rather never see on the field, I�m okay with this agreement.�� Let�s do the numbers:


This figure, insane as it may be, is roughly market for a top rank punter.��� Miller�s deal, overall, is +$6M; Mitch Berger (Vikings), Chris Gardocki (Browns) and Craig Hentrich (Titans) all are in that range.Dan Stryzinski just got a $5.7M/5 year deal from the Chiefs; Ex-Giant Brad Maynard�s new deal with the Bears is comparable.


High priced punters are no harbinger of success in the NFL.By the same token, paying the punter doesn�t signify doom.Consider three of the teams listed above: the Browns are so awful that Gardocki was their MVP in 2000.The Browns stink on ice but this is not because they�ve lavished cash on their punter.It is because they can�t run the ball; they haven�t stopped the run; they can�t protect their franchise QB and they field dwarves at CB.


The Browns don�t have enough anywhere; in contrast, the Vikes have more than enough O-side talent.Sure Mitch Berger got a $1.65M bonus to go with his +$6M deal; despite that, the Vikes have been able to pay Culpepper, Carter, Moss, Smith and the rest.The Berger bucks could have gone to the D-side but, given their deficiencies there, this wouldn�t have been nearly enough.Better they had passed on Underwood and Bioreau.


Craig Hentrich punts for big money down in Music City and the Titans, unlike the Vikes, have difference makers on both sides of the ball.It is early but I�d bet the Titans, Bucs, and Broncos will be the best-balanced teams in the 2001 season.Hentrich�s huge salary has been no handicap to his team; last season, Tennessee extended Eddie George; last winter, they acquired Kevin Carter and soon, very soon, they will clear some cap space by extending Steve McNair.


The Titans haven�t risen because they have Hentrich any more than the Browns are flat-lined because they�ve overpaid Gardocki.�� The Miller signing is in the same category; the Stillers are ahead of the Browns because they have more players and they are behind the Titans because they have fewer difference-makers.Given that, the Stillers do need the field position advantages that Miller affords.Let�s face it, this team is only a couple editions removed from the �99 assemblage and, that year, Miller should have been the Stillers MVP.In that respect, the �99 Stillers looked like the �00 Browns; in �01, the Stillers� fate will depend much more on Stew, Toy, Spike and the DE than any terms extracted by Josh�s agent.


This deal is not a cap killer.Evidently Miller will play; or rather punt, in 2001 for $825K (6.425M-5.600M).Last year, his cap hit was $815K; that was comprised of a $575K salary and a $240K bonus.Reportedly, his 2001 base was to $650K; if so, his 2001 cap hit would have been $890K.That�s more than $825 though, in fairness, a sixth of his new $1.1M bonus could factor this season.Even if so, his maximum new hit would be just a bit over $1M.In sum, this new deal puts Miller in the 2001 fold for something between -$65K and +$120K of previous.Cap-wise 2001, that�s beer money.


Miller will be 31 through the 2001 season; if he punts out his contract, he will retire at 36.Punters don�t take a lot of hits; Josh has a reasonable chance to complete his term.In contrast, the Bus will be 29 when this season begins; he has a 6-year deal and so will be 34 when that closes in 2006.Kimble Anders is older than that now; Larry Centers is about that age but neither are every-down backs and neither have 2461 career carries.The Bus won�t make it and, if you want to talk dead money, this hit, circa 2004, is the place to begin.


This deal should have no impact on the Stillers ability to sign their D-side FA:Tennessee is about to extend McNair and, aside from the wisdom of tying up this man long-term, the Titans have seized an opportunity to clear cap space in 2001.Reportedly, McNair�s new deal will be for 7-8 years at $7-8M/season including something like a $12M bonus.In essence, the Titans will pay Steve his 2001 base (+$4.6M) in new bonus bucks.As a result, McNair�s hit will be much reduced (say $12M/8years + vet min.= about $2M.).


That�s the way to do it.Following that model, the Stillers might pay bonuses to Holmes, DW and Scott, reduce their hits and therefore be in the game when the camp cuts begin in July.This isn�t impossible, in 2000, Earl, DW and Chad had a combined base of$3.940M (look it up).No doubt, these men went up in 2001 but, probably little more than $300K each.�� That would put them in around $4.8M and that is McNair territory.It is Kordell territory too but that�s another article.


I�ve written about the D-side Diaspora since 1/1/01; I remain convinced that this is job #1 for the Stiller FO.However, the 2001 difference in Miller�s deals is inconsequential to that task.Bonus allocation is the key and, presumably, bonus flow is what Heinz Field is all about.



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