Heading into the draft in April, Aaron Curry was considered by many to be the surest pick of all—the no-brainer, all-around-nice-guy, do-everything linebacker who could help anchor a team’s defense for a decade.
And when the Seattle Seahawks were able to get him with the fourth pick, they had to feel very fortunate. Of course, they knew it would cost them a fortune to sign him, and that’s apparently what they paid, as Curry reportedly signed a six-year deal today that could be worth $60 million and will guarantee him $34 million.
As rich as the deal is, though, it’s simply market value.
The market was set after Kansas City signed defensive end Tyson Jackson, the third pick, to a five-year deal with $31 million guaranteed. The New York Jets had previously signed quarterback Mark Sanchez, picked fifth overall, to a five-year deal guaranteeing him $28 million.
While the $34 million guaranteed is more than Jackson got and also more than the $33 million that No. 2 pick Jason Smith received from St. Louis, the Seahawks had to pay that much to get the sixth year in the deal.
The best way to compare the guaranteed money is to break it down by year. Smith, who signed a five-year deal, gets an average of $6.6 million per year. Jackson’s deal guarantees $6.2 million. Sanchez gets $5.4 million. And Curry fits right where he should at about $5.7 million per year.
Of course, he might be able to void that sixth year. But that surely would cost him some of the guaranteed money.
Curry’s total package matches what the Oakland Raiders gave Darren McFadden last year after picking him fourth overall. But Curry’s guaranteed money is $8 million more than the Raiders gave their running back. In fact, Curry’s guaranteed money is the most ever for a rookie who didn’t play quarterback. It matches what Atlanta gave QB Matt Ryan after drafting him third last year and is second only to the $42 million Detroit guaranteed No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford this year.
Not that Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu have anything to complain about, but you have to wonder what those two linebackers think about their new third wheel getting more money than they recently did.
This offseason, Hill signed a six-year deal reportedly worth $38 million—a total that is barely more than the guaranteed portion of Curry’s deal. In 2008, Tatupu signed an eight-year deal worth $42 million, with “only” $18 million guaranteed.
The Seahawks were backed into a corner thanks to their horrible 2008 season, and $34 million was the price they had to pay for drafting fourth overall. In the end, they got Curry for the amount the market required.
The Seahawks could find themselves in a similar spot next year if the Denver Broncos do as poorly as expected. If they’re lucky, there will be a new collective-bargaining agreement by then, and it will include a whole new section regulating rookie contracts.