Explaining structure and cap hits for Frank Ragnow's contract extension with Lions
Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow signed an extension earlier this month, which puts him under contract with the team through 2026. The reported details included $52 million in new money, including $42 million in guarantees.
Now that the details have been filed with the league, we can see how the Lions structured the contract and what the salary cap implications are for this and future seasons.
Ragnow was already under contract for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, after the Lions had exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie contract earlier this offseason. Those cap hits were scheduled to be $3.75 million and $12.66 million.
The extension, which added four additional years, included a signing bonus of $6 million and an $18 million option bonus in 2022.
For cap purposes, a signing bonus is spread evenly across the duration of the contract — not just the new years — up to a maximum of five seasons. That added $1.2 million (one-fifth of the $6 million figure) to Ragnow's 2021 cap hit, which was largely offset by the team reducing his base salary from $2.09 million to $1.21 million as part of the extension.
An option bonus works the same way as a signing bonus, once it's exercised. Therefore, starting in 2022, through 2025, the signing bonus and option bonus hits will count $4.8 million against the cap ($1.2 prorated portion of the signing bonus plus the $3.6 million prorated portion of the option bonus). In 2026, the sixth and final year of his full contract, only the prorated portion of the option bonus will remain, or $3.6 million.
By utilizing the option bonus in 2022, as opposed to simply giving Ragnow a $24 million signing bonus, it allows the franchise to better control its year-to-year cash flow.
As noted, Ragnow's base salary for 2021 decreases slightly, while that number in 2022 drops nearly $10 million, from $12.66 million to $2.75 million. The remaining base salaries are as follows:
► 2023: $11.55 million
► 2024: $7.9 million
► 2025: $9.15 million
► 2026: $11.9 million
Additionally, Ragnow has workout bonuses of $100,000 2023-26 and a $750,000 roster bonus in 2026. In total, the value of Ragnow's contracts over the six years are more than $71 million.
Finally, and most importantly to roster-building purposes, Ragnow's cap numbers through the end of his contract:
► 2021: $4.07 million
► 2022: $7.55 million
► 2023: $16.45 million
► 2024: $12.8 million
► 2025: $14.05 million
► 2026: $16.35 million