We used to say that NFL contracts are all about the guarantees.
But then, we learned that it's only full guarantees that matter, as we were just discussing with our pal Elvis Dumervil.
It's why we try not to react too strongly to initial contract reports, and recommend our readers do the same.
See, tweets like this get everyone riled up:
Broncos spent $110 million; $60 million guaranteed, on 3 D players: Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware,T.J. Ward.— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) March 12, 2014
But here's the thing - whenever a figure is advertised as being guaranteed in an NFL contract, injury guarantees are always included.
A good rule of thumb is to take whatever number is being reported and cut it in half.
Such is the case with T.J. Ward's deal, the details of which have just emerged.
His contract was first reported as being worth $23M with $14M in guarantees.
Reality? The total value is only $22.5M, only $13.5M is guaranteed, and only $7M of that is fully guaranteed, due this year.
The other $6.5M is only guaranteed for injury in 2015, meaning the Broncos will have the option of cutting Ward next year without owing him a penny.
Denver essentially signed T.J. Ward to a one-year deal worth $7M, and then they have three one-year options on him beyond that.
This is how most NFL contracts work.
This is how Denver's other big contracts are probably structured.
Reporters don't tend to like sharing this reality, because player agents are their sources, and they want to be the first person to announce a signing.
This is how we get tweets like the one above, and dramatic reactions in the Twittersphere, on television, and in comment sections of football websites like this and every other one.
But we should all know better.