The Falcons knew exactly who they wanted heading into the 2020 NFL Draft and their first pick was Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell at No. 16. The rookie officially inked his four-year contract on Wednesday.
Terrell’s contract is worth a total of $14.31 million and he will get a signing bonus of $7.96 million.
ESPN’s Vaughn McClure broke down the salaries year by year:
A.J. Terrell’s 4-year, $14,305,747 guaranteed rookie deal: Signing bonus of $7,964,180. Base salaries of $610,000 (2020), $1,260,261 (2021), $1,910,522 (2022), $2,560,783 (2023). Cap numbers of $2,601,045 (’21), $3,251,306 (‘22), $3,901,567 (‘23), $4,551,828 (‘24). 5th-year op.
— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) July 24, 2020
Breaking Down Terrell’s Contract
So, Terrell is guaranteed at least $14.31 million. This is the money he will actually see. Terrell will also get his signing bonus money.
From there he will have salaries broken into four years:
Players earn their base salary by just being on the team’s roster during the year.
- $610,000 (2020)
- $1,260,261 (2021)
- $1,910,522 (2022)
- $2,560,783 (2023)
Now, the cap numbers or cap guarantee are larger numbers of $2,601,045 (’21), $3,251,306 (‘22), $3,901,567 (‘23), and $4,551,828 (‘24). These are what’s guaranteed with Terrell’s signing bonus spread out over the years. All this adds up to the guarenteed $14.3 million.
The cap guarantee will protect Terrell from being released so that the team can get under the cap, sign a free agent, or re-sign another player. If Terrell happens to be terminated then he’s entitled to any money left under the cap.
Terrell could also get bonuses or incentives that can be anything from hitting a certain stat (interceptions), breaking a record, not missing a workout, or winning awards. The player contract is full of them but isn’t necessarily easy to get to. These are earned bonuses which really are meant to motivate them to play their best.
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Terrell’s Fifth-Year Option
Once Terrell’s rookie contract is up, Atlanta can decide on his Fifth-Year Option.
All players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft will automatically get a Fifth-Year Option added in his contract.
The option will allow a team to retain a player’s rights for five years rather than the standard four. In order to extend the contract, the team must inform the player during the period between the last regular season game of his third contract year and May 3 of the next League Year.
The option is guaranteed for injury only. If the player remains on the roster at the start of the League Year of his option season, it becomes fully guaranteed
The Fifth-Year Option is essentially intended to provide a team with more security when it invests a lot into a valuable first-round pick on a player.
A.J. Was the Pick the Falcons Needed
When you look past the National Championship game which everyone seems to focus too much on, Terrell is a solid and reliable cornerback. That’s something that he Falcons are lacking considering all of there current corners are fairly young and inconsistent.
But, thankfully the Falcons won themselves a big, tall, and athletic corner. That’s what you need in the NFC South division when you’re facing receivers like Michael Thomas.
The 6-foot-1, 195 pounds former Tiger certainly has the length a lot of NFL teams look for in a pro corner. In his final season at Clemson, Terrell finished as a first-team all-conference selection recording 37 tackles, two interceptions, and six pass breakups in 15 starts.