The MLS Salary numbers are out, and this time every year there's some manner of uproar over the compensation - or lack thereof - for various MLS players. Each year, we can also be confident that the numbers next to New England Revolution players won't be all that high.
Before we get a look at this, let's get some things straight. Number one is that not every salary listed, even the guaranteed compensation portion, represents the full scale of what an athlete is paid by the league or the club. Number two, not every salary listed actually counts against the cap. Only roster spots 1-20 count for cap purposes (so the 20 highest-paid players, all senior roster players), and there are ways to get some of those contracts off the cap, too (Homegrown Players, Generation Adidas, and possibly that new Special Discovery Rule). Number three, designated players have a specific cap hit in 2014 ($387,500) which also happens to be the maximum allowed salary budget charge for any player. Mind you, that does not function as a hard salary maximum, it just means you either have to be a DP (or some other special roster player) or have everything above that number bought down with allocation money. DPs will count as senior roster (read: 1-20 slots) players.
I thought we would break this down into a few talking points. Let's get started.
As expected, Jose Goncalves is making something in the neighborhood of $450,000 this season. In fact, that's his base salary, with a guaranteed compensation number of $479,375. Here is a classic case of a contract being bought down by allocation money, which is clearly the case since Goncalves can't legally count for more than $387,500 against the cap. Why the Revs have chosen to pay him over the budget limit but not make him a Designated Player is anybody's guess, but clearly the front office feels that this option offers them greater financial flexibility.
Nguyen is a guy who got his contract restructured in the off-season, and he's definitely making his money now. Lee's 2013 guaranteed compensation was just over $80,000; he's now guaranteed $193,750 for the 2014 season. When I say "guaranteed" I take it to mean that, if he stays under contract the whole year, that's what he'll make. Whether or not his contract itself is actually guaranteed is unknown, as many MLS contracts still aren't guaranteed unless you make it past a certain date in the summer. Lee deserved his raise, and it's good to see that he received a significant one.
Daigo Kobayashi made over $238,000 last season with Vancouver. When he arrived in Foxboro, it was announced that he'd signed a new contract with the league and team, so a pay cut was to be expected. Kobayashi will be making $136,666.67 in 2014.
Longtime Revolution vets Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes finished out their previous contracts last season and were re-signed to new ones in the offseason. Their fortunes ran differently, however. Alston took a cut in guaranteed pay of over $50,000, coming down from $194,000 to just over $143,000. Barnes, on the other hand, got a raise. The versatile defender made $72,717 in 2013, but his new contract entitles him to $86,666.67 this season.
Generation Adidas No Longer
Andrew Farrell and Kelyn Rowe both entered the league as Generation Adidas players, meaning they were well-paid draftees who did not play through their senior collegiate seasons, and their contracts did not count against the salary cap. League sources have confirmed that both players graduated from GA after 2013. That means that Farrell's $176,000 and Rowe's $181,000 are on-cap. However, it should be noted that both of those players have incredibly large disparities in base salary and guaranteed compensation ($95,000 to $176,000 and $100,000 to $181,000, respectively), which may indicate some salary cap single entity black magic at work.
When a player's league contract option is picked up, it seems there's usually a built-in, incremental raise that accompanies that. A general comparison of the Revs' 2013 and 2014 salaries would indicate that. Sometimes it makes you scratch your head, though, like when you realize that Dimitry Imbongo now makes $122,375.
...Except for Saer Sene
Puzzlingly, Saer Sene has actually taken a pay cut. In 2013, Sene's salary was $200,000, with $211,537.54 in guaranteed compensation. This season, Sene is entitled to just $152,145 and $163,682.54, respectively. Maybe I'm forgetting something, but I don't recall any word about a restructuring of his deal. Given how tight-lipped the league and club are about contracts, we're unlikely to ever get an explanation, but it is still interesting.
Top Earners XI (not accounting for positions)
- Jose Goncalves - $450,000 salary, $479,375 guaranteed compensation.
- Teal Bunbury - $135,000 salary, $233,000 guaranteed compensation
- Lee Nguyen - $175,000 salary, $193,750 guaranteed compensation
- Kelyn Rowe - $100,000 salary, $181,000 guaranteed compensation
- Andrew Farrell - $95,000 salary, $176,000 guaranteed compensation
- Saer Sene - $152,145 salary, and $163,682.54 guaranteed compensation
- A.J. Soares - $119,180 salary, and $159,180 guaranteed compensation
- Jerry Bengtson - $144,000 salary, and $150,840 guaranteed compensation
- Kevin Alston - $125,000 salary, and $143,333.33 guaranteed compensation
- Diego Fagundez - $110,000 salary, and $137,200 guaranteed compensation
- Daigo Kobayashi - $125,000 salary, and $136,666.66 guaranteed compensation
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