But now it appears that Breeland’s contract — at least in 2021 — is worth substantially less than that.
According to the salary-cap site Spotrac, Breeland is earning a guaranteed base salary of $1.1 million — the NFL minimum for a player with his experience — on top of a $1 million signing bonus. In addition, he can earn a $54,000 bonus for each game for which he is on the Vikings’ active roster. Since he was active for just 12 games in 2020, only 12 games of that bonus ($653,000) are considered likely-to-be-earned (LTBE) — which means Breeland’s Vikings cap hit for 2021 will be just $2.7 million. If he on the roster for more than 12 games, any additional roster bonuses he will earn (up to $252,000) will count against Minnesota’s 2022 cap.
Does this mean that Breeland’s 2021 salary was reported incorrectly? Not necessarily. If his deal also included not-likely-to-be-earned (NLTBE) bonuses — for example, leading the league in interceptions — totaling an additional $1 million, the $4 million that was reported would be accurate. It’s just that Breeland wouldn’t be likely to earn that total amount in 2021 — and if he did, a substantial portion of it would count against the Vikings’ 2022 cap.
And it puts Breeland’s decision to sign with Minnesota in a somewhat different light. The Chiefs one-year contract with the cornerback for 2020 paid him $2.3 million — not that much less than the Vikings were willing to guarantee.
So why did the Chiefs not come to terms with Breeland for 2021?
As we noted ten days ago, the Chiefs have a number of younger players they are hoping will step up this season, which has the potential to make Breeland’s presence in Kansas City less vital. But a weekend report from Andrew Kramer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune revealed another angle: Breeland had shoulder surgery during the offseason.
“I’m on track,” Breeland told Kramer. “The doctors tell me when I’m ready to get on the field. I’m just as anxious as everyone else to see me in this purple and gold and get going out there. At this time, I’m just taking the process of really getting in tune with my body as well as getting in tune with my teammates.”
This might explain the presence of the per-game roster bonuses in Breeland’s new contract — and why the Chiefs may have been reluctant to sign him to yet another one-year deal.
In any case, Breeland said that he expects to quickly get up to speed with his new teammates.
“There’s a lot of veteran guys mixed into this defense that are really going to allow me to get up to speed quickly,” Breeland said. “There’s no one in here really hiding information. I asked questions, they give me the proper answers. They’re willing to teach, and I’m willing to learn, so I feel like it’s going to be a great fit.”