Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Quantifying deflategate

May 12, 2015

Share this article:

(Via Flickr.com user Keith Allison)

The NFL’s latest scandal involves its most famous player and the Super Bowl championship team. And, there are some significant numbers involved.

To get you up to speed, the league commissioned an investigation called the Wells Report. It looked into whether the New England Patriots colluded to deflate footballs during the AFC championship game last season.

The report, issued last week, found that two team staff members did intentionally let the air out of footballs. It also stated that Patriots’ quarter back Tom Brady was “at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities,” although it did not find direct evidence that the quarterback was involved.

On Monday, the league announced that Brady would be suspended for four games, and the Patriots will also be fined $1 million and will lose their first-round draft pick next year.

Before the suspension was handed out, Brady was expected to make $8 million in 2015 in base salary, or approximately $500,000 a game.

In total, the 37-year-old could lose $1,882,353 next season if his appeal is unsuccessful.

But there could be a way for the Patriots to minimize their star quarterback’s losses.

According to Over The Cap, a site that follows NFL contracts meticulously, the team could restructure Brady’s salary so he simply receives the league minimum $970,000 in 2015. (Players who’ve spent more than nine years in the league are eligible for this minimum; Brady is a 15-year veteran.)

The remaining $7.03 million from his original contract could be converted to roster bonuses, which the NFL couldn’t touch, the site says. Roster bonuses are awarded immediately the year they are earned, unlike signing bonuses, which can be doled out over several years.

The Patriots’ numbers, however, look a little more dire.

Besides losing a quick $1 million, New England is being penalized its future first-round and fourth-round draft picks. NFL teams use the draft every year to replenish their rosters with young players, and, in a year with an especially talented college pool, a first-round selection could prove valuable.

It’s unclear what position the Patriots would be in for the 2016 draft. That’s determined by a team’s regular season record.

But a first round draft pick can have five times the value of the first selection in the second round.

To give you an idea of the value of a No. 1 pick, consider this list of current and retired players who’ve been selected first overall.

• Andrew Luck (’12)

• Eli Manning (’04)

• Cam Newton (’11)

• Michael Vick (’01)

• Peyton Manning (’98)

• Troy Aikman (’89)

• Bo Jackson (’86)

• John Elway (’83)

• Terry Bradshaw (’70)

For story ideas, Deflategate is likely to continue throughout the rest of the offseason and into next fall’s NFL season. See what your local team has said, and what area fans are talking about the situation (you should find plenty of comments on social media).

More Like This...

Get Two Minute Tips For Business Journalism Delivered To Your Email Every Tuesday

Two Minute Tips

Every Tuesday we send out a quick-read email with tips for business journalism. Sign up now and get one Tuesday.