This is a complicated deal. Wilson was owed 14.5 million combined over the next 2 seasons. This deal rips up those two years and replaces them with base salaries of 3 million and 3.5 million in each of the next two seasons. There are also performance incentives over the next 2 years of the deal which will allow him to “earn back” his old salary through various milestones.
These milestones include things like making the Pro Bowl, as well as reaching certain numbers of snaps played, sacks, interceptions, fumble recoveries and touchdowns. It looks doubtful that he’ll reach all of them, so he almost definitely took a pay cut over the next 2 years. The Cardinals will also save 4.125 million towards the cap this season, which is very important because they were backed up against it.
In addition, this contract adds an additional 2 years to Wilson’s original deal, which function much like the first 2 years, meaning they’re heavily incentive based. The base salaries for those 2 seasons are 3.5 million. Wilson will be 35 and 36 respectively in those two seasons so it’s important that these years be heavily incentive based. His base salaries are also non-guaranteed over those two seasons.
The only benefit Wilson gets out of this deal is that his 2012 and 2013 base salaries become fully guaranteed (albeit smaller), so there’s no benefit for the Cardinals cutting him, meaning he’ll stay with the team through his age 34 season. Given that Wilson played incredibly well last season, ranking 2nd on ProFootballFocus at his position only to Troy Polamalu and making the Pro Bowl, it was unlikely that he would be cut anyway.
This is clearly a team friendly restructuring of his contract. Wilson even admits that he did it for unselfish reasons saying “I’m not in it for the money. I have enough of that. I just want to finish my career here and hopefully the young guys here now understand why I am doing it, and put them in a better situation down the road.” This deal is clearly good news for the Cardinals.