The decision by the Saskatchewan Roughriders to pull quarterback Zach Collaros off the six-game injured list early has salary cap implications for the club.
After the Riders acquired Collaros in January in a trade with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the team and 29-year-old pivot agreed to a restructured deal worth $430,000 in hard money with $225,000 up front and no playtime incentives. That means $205,000 is base salary paid out over 18 games, which works out to $11,388 and change per outing. Multiply that amount by six and the cap savings for keeping Collaros on the six-game injured list for the full stint would have equalled $68,000. But by pulling him off two games early, the full amount will count against the cap.
Meanwhile, Canadian quarterback Brandon Bridge collected an extra $3,000 per start for $12,000 over four games as part of the playtime incentives in his deal. If Bridge had played two more games he would’ve been paid another $6,000 more, potentially putting the total at $18,000.
So leaving Collaros on the injured list for the entire six games could have saved the Riders approximately $50,000 when the Bridge playtime incentives are factored into the equation – a substantial amount especially when you consider any contracts signed for the remainder of the season are pro-rated. But the Riders would have prepared for Collaros and Bridge to be on the roster together going into the season from a salary cap perspective.
The Riders have clearly prioritized winning football games over cap savings. Saskatchewan has Edmonton, a bye week and Calgary on the upcoming schedule. Stashing Collaros for the full six games would’ve meant the prized off-season acquisition sidelined against two top teams in the West both of whom the Riders are chasing in the standings. Hopes for a home playoff game will take a hit should the green and white lose to the Eskimos and Stampeders.
That’s not to say a Riders team led by Bridge had no chance of beating either squad, but clearly, Jones felt the Riders were better by pulling Collaros off early. The team gets both the benefit of Collaros and the addition of Bridge as the backup – a plus given that the other quarterbacks on the roster, David Watford and Devin Gardner, are both CFL rookies.
Coming out of training camp, Collaros won the starting job then completed 18-of-25 passes for 203 yards and one touchdown in Saskatchewan’s 27-19 Week 1 victory against Toronto. He completed 4-of-10 passes for 106 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the game against Ottawa until suffering the hit that led to the setback.
Collaros felt he was healthy enough to play for a couple weeks and Jones allowed the quarterback to take as much time as needed to heal from the head injury. He had been pushing to play and after getting the green light Jones felt it was worth the cap hit to bring Collaros back onto the Riders offence.