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Asked Aug 31, 2018 by
Signing Bonuses in Potential Lockout Years

Is there a trend of players having more signing bonuses paid out in the potential lock-out years (2020-2021 & 2022-2023)?

Aug 31, 2018

There is definitely a noticeable trend of more signing bonuses in the two potential lock-out years (2020-2021 & 2022-2023) relative to other years. This is significant because signing bonuses are paid before the season, so the players will receive that money even if there is a lockout that year, as opposed to base salaries which could be lost if time is missed.

Below is a table of Signing Bonuses by Season.  This shows that right now, there are $244M in Signing Bonuses to 76 Players in 2020/21 & $138M to 36 Players in 2022/23. The % of Players who have signing bonuses increases significantly in the 2 Potential Lockout years relative to other years.  In addition, the average signing bonus as % of Total Compensation also increases significantly in the 2 Potential Lockout years relative to other years. 

Signing Bonus by Year
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As expected, it's the higher paid players who have contracts signed for several years into the future, which is evidenced by the Average Cap Hit increasing each year.  Therefore, it's useful to only look at players who have a Cap Hit of $2M or greater.  It's also useful to look at just the players who have signing bonuses to see if there is significant variation in the potential lockout years.

There's a similar trend.  The average Signing Bonus as % of Total Compensation is also highest in the two potential lockout years. 


Signing Bonus by Year >2M
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The evidence shows that there is definitely a notable trend to protect players in potential lockout years.