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This is interesting. ESPN’s Field Yates reports that the New Orleans Saints reached an agreement with linebacker Demario Davis to rework his contract, adding greater incentives and guarantees in the remaining years. It also adds another year to the contract through 2024, so this isn’t a huge extension for the 33-year old All-Pro, but it may be a compromise between the team and a player who’s been underpaid relative to his peers.
Yates specifies that Davis has now guaranteed $1 million of next year’s base salary, which dropped slightly from $8.5 million to $8.25 million, with the $250,000 difference converted into a workout bonus. He’s also now added $2 million incentives for 2022, 2023, and 2024, bringing in another $6 million in potential earnings. Because these are non-guaranteed incentives, there is no change to Davis’ 2022 salary cap hit of $5.896 million. Yates added that the extra year tacked onto Davis’ deal in 2024 carries a $10 million base salary and a $2 million roster bonus in addition to those $2 million incentives for performance.
His cap hit was so low this season already because the Saints restructured Davis’ deal early in the spring, converting most of his base salary into a prorated signing bonus and adding three void years to the end of the contract. That means that if he plays out this contract as it’s currently written, the Saints would be left with $2.552 million in dead money once it expires in 2025. Another restructure or a real extension would change that, but it’s the cost of doing business.
Something else to monitor here: this may suggest Davis isn’t looking for an early retirement like his former teammate Malcolm Jenkins. That had been speculated by fans on social media given his comments to NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill, with Davis acknowledging that he’s focused on the 2022 season and he’ll worry about 2023 and beyond when he gets there. Tweaking his contract like this incentives him to hang with the Saints a while longer, even if he’s not getting a new deal altogether. Davis has played some of his best football in the later years of his NFL career, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Father Time caught up to him sooner or later. This way he gets some more money and the Saints aren’t tying themselves any tighter to an aging player. It makes sense for both sides.