The "would you rather" game and the MLS salary cap

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Bulls made minimal changes in the off-season, adding a few MLS veterans. How much are they paying them?

In a quiet off-season, the most shocking move the Red Bulls made was jettisoning defender Markus Holgersson -- who seemed to be coming into his own as an MLS centerback -- in order to clear salary cap space.

With that space cleared, the Red Bulls added Richard Eckersley, Bobby Convey and Armando, three veterans that, ostensibly, would give the team the depth to be competitive in all competitions.

As we all know, in a salary cap league, it becomes difficult to balance the depth against the league's player budget. So evaluating the moves Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh and the rest of the Red Bulls' brain trust made is complicated by how much those players are being paid and league rules that bar contract terms from being disclosed.

The only bit of contract information we get are salaries, thanks to the players' association. Today, they made the first set of salaries available, as they'll do a few times during the season.

According to that data, Bobby Convey is making $137,500 base with $147,500 guaranteed. Armando signed on for $120,000 base and $130,000 guaranteed and -- you should sit down for this one -- Richard Eckersley is being paid $255,000 base and $373,333.33 guaranteed.

Convey and Armando seem, for the price tag, not awful pick-ups. Convey is locked in a position battle with Jonny Steele, who is being paid a comparable salary, and can be used in place of Roy Miller, who is making $200,000.

Armando makes a bit less than Ibrahim Sekagya -- $190,000 base and $219,000 guaranteed -- and seems to bring a bit more to the table, even if he's still adjusting to MLS.

The red flag in all this is Richard Eckersley, who's had a rough start to his tenure in a Red Bulls shirt, following up a disastrous game against the Vancouver Whitecaps with iffy performances the rest of the way, up until his recent injury.

But even if Eckersley recovers and becomes a serviceable right back and Armando learns how to play on that edge a la Aurellian Collin, you still have to wonder about Holgersson. He was released, reportedly, due to the considerable raise he was due. But he can play both centerback and right back, and when you combine both Armando and Eckersley's salaries, they total $375,000.

We're operating in purely theoretical territory, but thanks to the salary cap this is how you evaluate moves in MLS: Would you rather have Holgersson and some pocket change or Armando and Eckersley?

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