Based on recent increases in top-five money and the deal quarterback Mark Sanchez signed last week, the Seahawks might end up guaranteeing linebacker Aaron Curry about $30 million in his rookie contract.
Earlier this week, the New York Jets guaranteed $28 million to Sanchez, the fifth overall pick in the draft, and the immediate question in Seattle was: How does this impact negotiations with Curry, whom the Seahawks drafted fourth overall?
Well, it could make them really long.
It comes down to what the Seahawks and Curry’s agent, Andy Ross of Octagon, want to base negotiations on. Do they base it on Sanchez’s deal, knowing that quarterbacks are generally paid more than other positions?
Or do they base it purely on the increase at the No. 4 spot?
Or do they wait to see what the third overall pick gets?
The guaranteed cash in Sanchez’s five-year deal breaks down to $5.6 million per year, which is a full million dollars more than the average of the guaranteed money the Kansas City Chiefs gave defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey at No. 5 last year.
Darren McFadden, drafted fourth by Oakland last year, got a 40 percent raise in guaranteed cash over the 2007 fourth overall pick, Tampa Bay defensive end Gaines Adams. So a 40 percent bump on McFadden’s $4.33 million average would amount to $6 million per year for Curry $30 million over five years. That’s also more than Sanchez got, so it probably will be Ross’s target.
If the Seahawks don’t like the idea of $6 million per year, they might decide to wait and see what Kansas City pays defensive end Tyson Jackson, the third pick. And if he gets less than that, it could get really sticky as the Seahawks and Ross argue over which benchmark to use.
In the end, the Seahawks might go to $30 million only if Curry commits for six years. He would still get the same total, but the Seahawks would get him for an extra year.
Bleacher Report's Colin Griffiths does a nice job of explaining some of the elements of rookie contracts (rookie cap, 25 percent rule, etc.), but he underestimates the amount the Seahawks will have to guarantee Curry.
Sure, Curry's salary-cap number in 2009 will be a manageable amount (about $3 million), but it will quickly fly up the charts over the next few years with the usual contract tricksroster bonuses, salary escalators, etc.
It’s probably safe to say that, after the deal finally gets done, the Seahawks will be at the front of the line in arguments for a rookie wage scale.