Ticats well positioned with Fantuz deal

February 21, 2012, 2:28 PM

Andy Fantuz will be unveiled at a news conference Tuesday morning inside the Hamilton Tiger-Cats dressing room as the latest splash for a franchise that has had no shortage of those over the past eight years.

Plenty separates Fantuz, the prize of the 2012 CFL free agency class, from those who have been airlifted with grand fanfare, and cash, before in Steeltown.

His body of work is far superior to Casey Printers and Jesse Lumsden, for instance, and the 28-year-old from Chatham, Ont., has a Grey Cup title on his resume, from the 2007 game in which he was named the top Canadian. Don’t forget that.

But in case Fantuz doesn’t materialize, like his free agency predecessors in Hamilton: Sandro DeAngelis, Terry Vaughn and Kenton Keith, the Tiger-Cats have structured the four-year deal to give themselves an easy, and cost-effective exit strategy if the team wants to cut bait after next season.

Fantuz will end up making an annual $190,000 salary in his new contract with the Tiger-Cats. There have been widespread reports on how much Fantuz is making but league sources confirmed how the contract is structured, one that offers the player fair market value and does not handcuff the team if he doesn’t produce.

The majority of Fantuz’s payment this year comes in the form of a $100,000 signing bonus and is accompanied with a base salary of $85,000 for the season. If he is active for 14 or more regular season games — and injuries have been a factor for the wide receiver in the past (ankle in 2011, broken fibula in 2008) — he will receive a roster bonus of $5,000.

But it is after his first season where the structure of the deal provides the organization with some flexibility.

Fantuz is not owed an off-season bonus in 2013 or 2014. His base salary for each of those two seasons is $160,000, accompanied by a $25,000 bonus per year by reporting and passing a physical to open training camp.

That effectively gives Hamilton the first five months of the calendar to decide on Fantuz’s fate, with no penalty or any salary cap implications. It also allows the Tiger-Cats to release Fantuz, should they wish, with little consequence.

While on the surface, it would appear that the notion of cutting Fantuz would be absurd, it wasn’t long ago when Printers and Lumsden were being celebrated as franchise-altering pieces themselves.

What is also unique about Fantuz’s deal is the lack of major incentive clauses. Unlike many CFL contracts, his does not include any financial reward for eclipsing the 1,000-yard plateau or for the number of touchdowns scored.

Usually, a player receives a sizeable bonus if they are named a division or league all-star; even more compensation if they win a major league award. Fantuz will get the minimum possible there — receiving only an additional $3,000 should he be named top Canadian in the CFL, $2,000 as a league all-star and $1,000 as a top player in the East.

Effectively, he will be paid between $185,000 and $196,000 per season.

How Fantuz’s deal is structured:

$190,000 across the board.

2012

$85,000 base salary.
Signing bonus of $100,000.
Named to 42-man roster for 14 or more regular season games: $5000 bonus.

2013

$160,000 base salary.
Report to training camp and pass physical: $25,000 bonus.
Named to 42-man roster for 14 or more regular season games: $5000 bonus.

2014

$160,000 base salary.
Report to training camp and pass physical: $25,000 bonus.
Named to 42-man roster for 14 or more regular season games: $5000 bonus.

2015
Team option on contract.

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