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Impact on Bengals' salary cap after Mike Pollak's retirement

When the Cincinnati Bengals released Mike Pollak earlier this year, they took $333,333 of dead money against the cap due to the proration remaining on his signing bonus. His retirement doesn't change that.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Here's a question: How will Mike Pollak's alleged retirement impact Cincinnati's salary cap? Wait just a minute. Why would this impact anything? He wasn't with the Bengals at the time of his reported retirement and if he's retired, wouldn't that just clear whatever obligations remain?

On April 12, 2013, Cincinnati re-signed Pollak to a three-year deal worth $4.8 million with $1,000,000 guaranteed (the combination of his $500,000 signing bonus and a 2014 roster bonus of $500,000). As in most cases within the owner-friendly NFL, the contract wasn't entirely honored when the Bengals released Pollak on Feb. 20, 2015 (10 months into a three-year contract).

When Cincinnati released Pollak, they acquired $333,333 of dead money (two thirds of the prorated signing bonus); in it's most basic explanation, dead money is applied to the salary cap, which can't be used until the next season. There are deeper explanations and various scenarios that could derive the point into a far more complicated angles, but that's outside the scope here.

Heading into the 2015 season, the Bengals have $798,248 in dead money against their salary cap. Pollak takes a substantial chunk of that ($333,333), as does Devon Still. Why Still? He was released from his rookie contract, which carried $295,164 of dead money. Just because he signed another/smaller deal, it doesn't wipe the dead money from the books.

  1. Pollak was released before his retirement, placing the dead money on the books for 2015;
  2. The retirement of a player is treated similarly to a released player.

"A player who leaves via trade, release or retirement before any bonus proration or other guaranteed money have been amortized carries an accelerated cap hit," writes Tom Pelissero with the USA TODAY in a story dated Sept. 5, 2013. The key word in that sentence is retirement.

From our first-grade level research (aka, Googling), the Bengals will need to carry the $333,333 of dead money in 2015. For a team that's well below their cap, this shouldn't even be an issue.