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Cardinals rookie contracts: Paris Johnson Jr. already has team's 10th-highest cap charge

Howard Balzer Avatar
May 15, 2023

Mother’s Day weekend was the close of the Cardinals rookie minicamp and my return from Birmingham, Alabama, where production concluded on this year’s edition of Lindy’s Pro Football Preview, for which I have been the senior editor since 1993. The magazine will hit stores in the first or second week of June.

The last two weeks have been intense, so my apologies for not having content here, but that will change in the coming days as various story lines are examined.

That begins now with an update of where the Cardinals stand with the contracts of their nine-player draft class. The rookie salary-cap pool for the Cardinals is $12.826 million.

The contracts for six of the Cardinals draft picks have been reported and it’s notable that offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. will count $5.1 million against this year’s salary cap, a number that is already the 10th-highest on the team.

Technically, he ranks 11th, because free-agent bust Jordan Phillips has $5.9 million in dead money on this year’s cap.

The other 10 are wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins ($29,988,890); safety Budda Baker ($16,871,350); quarterback Kyler Murray ($16,007,000); wide receiver Marquise Brown ($13,413,000); tackle D.J. Humphries ($12,536,666); tight end Zach Ertz ($11,605,000); running back Isaiah Simmons ($6,574,926); and safety Kalen Thompson ($5,287,750).

As a first-round pick, Johnson’s four-year deal (plus a fifth-year option) of $28,052,460 is fully guaranteed.

There is a $17,401,788 signing bonus, third-day-of-training-camp roster bonuses of $1,110,112 in 2024; $2,270,224 in 2025 and $3,430,336 in 2016; base salaries of $750,000 this year; $2,025,112 in 2024; $3,300,224 in 2025 and $4,575,336 in 2026.

The cap charges after this year are $6,375,559 in 2024; $7,650,671 in 2025; and $8,925,783 in 2026.

The five other known contracts are for wide receiver Michael Wilson (third round), offensive lineman Jon Gaines II (fourth), quarterback Clayton Tune (fifth), linebacker Owen Pappoe (fifth) and defensive lineman Dante Stills (sixth).

Those four-year contracts follow.

Wilson: $5,339,462 with a signing bonus of $833,244 and salaries of $750,000 this year; $992,703 in 2024; $1,235,406 in 2025; and $1,478,109 in 2026. His cap charge is $970,811. However, because the 51-player offseason cutoff is currently $940,000, the net added to the cap is only $30,811 because his addition knocked a $940,000 player out of the top 51.

Gaines: $4,572,240 with a signing bonus of $732,240 and minimum base salaries of $750,000 this year; $915,000 in 2024; $1,030,000 in 2025 and $1,145,00 in 2025. All players from the fourth round on receive the same minimum salaries. Gaines’ cap charge of $933,060 is not in the top 51.

Tune: $4,190,624 with $350,624 signing bonus and cap charge of $837,656.

Pappoe: $4,084,980 with signing bonus of $244,980 and cap hit of $811,245.

Stills: $3,973,332 with $133,332 signing bonus and cap charge of $783,333.

The Cardinals also signed 10 undrafted free agents, but only two are known to have received any guaranteed money.

Those rookies sign three-year deals that have minimum base salaries of $750,000; $915,000 and $1,030,000 for a total of $2.695 million.

Defensive lineman Jacob Slade has $200,000 guaranteed: a $20,000 signing bonus and $180,000 of his 2023 base salary.

Safety Kendell Brooks has $80,000 guaranteed: $10,000 signing bonus and $70,000 of his base salary.

The eight players that received no guaranteed money were wide receiver Daniel Arias; tight ends Joel Honigford and Blake Whiteheart; running back Emari Demercado; linebackers Kyle Soelle and Marvin Pierre; cornerback Quavian White; and long snapper Matt Hembrough.

Cardinals new punter

With the Cardinals moving on from Andy Lee, they signed punter Matt Haack, who played at Arizona State and had a tryout at the rookie camp.

Haack entered the NFL in 2017 with the Dolphins. After four seasons, he was with the Bills in 2021 and the Colts last season. He became an unrestricted free agent in March,

Last season, Haack averaged 44.8 yards on 70 punts with a 40.6 net. He had only three touchbacks and placed 28 kicks inside the 20.

The Cardinals are continuing Phase 2 of their offseason program. The 10 permitted OTAs begin next week (May 22-23 and May 25), followed by May 31-June 2 and June 5-8. The mandatory minicamp will be June 13-15.

Don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions on Twitter or email me: howard@gophnx.com

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