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With Mario Williams Set To Become A Free Agent, DeMarcus Ware's Contract Could Prove Instructive

Ever since Wade Phillips decided that Mario Williams would be playing outside linebacker, Super Mario has been compared to DeMarcus Ware. Those comparisons were initially grounded in what we could expect Super Mario to do on the field via a look at what Ware did in Wade's scheme. Now, with your Houston Texans facing the decision of how to handle Mario Williams' impending free agency, the view shifts off the gridiron, to the land o' contracts.

MDC, among others, has frequently cited DeMarcus Ware's contract as proof that the Texans can structure a cap-friendly contract for The Man Who Saved Us From Reggie Bush. That piqued my curiosity, so I started looking for details on Ware's contract. Though Ware restructured his deal last August to provide some salary cap relief for his employer (exactly how it was restructured does not appear to be public knowledge, or at least I haven't been able to find anything that reveals the specifics), we can still look at the terms of his initial deal for some guidance as to how the Texans might try to create a palatable and appropriate deal for Mario Williams. I'm no capologist, and I won't even pretend to play one on this blog, but it would be beyond fantastic if Rick Smith could craft a deal similar to DeMarcus Ware's for Mario Williams.

The details, and some analysis of Ware's contract (before it got restructured) from NFP's Andrew Brandt:

Signing bonus: $20 million


2009: $6M ($5.59M guaranteed)
2010: $7.8M (all guaranteed)
2011: $6.7M ($6.61M guaranteed)
2012: $4.5M
2013: $5.5M
2014: $12.25M
2015: $13.75M

Offseason Workout Bonus: $500,000 per season 2011-2015

Total Value

All told, the contract worth is $79 million. That factors out to an APY (average per year) of $13.16 million.


The guaranteed amount is $40M, exceeding the guarantees of Rivers and Manning and pulling in right below the new standards for guaranteed contracts, those of Haynesworth ($41M) and Matthew Stafford ($41.7M).

Analysis: This is as impressive a number as there is other than the largest free-agent contract in NFL history (Haynesworth) and the largest rookie contract in NFL history (Stafford). There’s not much else to say. The numbers are remarkable.

A couple of things to bear in mind, in my estimation...

1. Ware's deal was negotiated in 2009, not 2012, so you have to account for a presumed increase in dollars given the three years that have passed. While that probably doesn't equate to a monstrous difference in money, there's almost sure to be some difference in a comparable deal for Mario Williams purely due to the later date in this negotiation.

2. There's additional money to spend, thanks to the increase in television dollars starting in 2014 via the new extensions the NFL signed with its network partners. The salary cap will also increase during that time, though we don't know exactly how much. Bottom line is that it probably makes more sense than ever to backload contracts given the changing salary cap and influx of television money on the horizon.

If the Texans can get Super Mario to agree to a deal that's similar in value and structure to DeMarcus Ware's, re-signing him becomes, dare I say it, a no-brainer. Your thoughts?