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Russell Okung to Broncos: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Nov 23, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tackle Russell Okung (76) against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 19-3. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2016

After six seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, offensive tackle Russell Okung will suit up for the Denver Broncos in 2016. The Broncos announced the signing Thursday.

Okung previously confirmed the news to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. The deal is for five years and $10.6 million per season, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com. 

Field Yates of ESPN added "0 guarantees at signing. $1M workout bonus, $2M base, $2M roster bonus for being on the 53-man for at least 1 game."

Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported that Okung's contract "is essentially [two] contracts in one," as he will receive $5 million in guarantees next season with an opportunity to earn $8 million in incentives. The contract could be worth up to $10.6 million per season if Okung is healthy and produces, per La Canfora.

La Canfora also noted that Denver can opt to pick up the option for a four-year deal after the season. It would span from 2017 to 2020 and be worth $12 million per year with $20.5 million in guarantees.

"I got a really good understanding for what the zone scheme is. ... Whatever they ask me to do, I'm ready to do it," said Okung, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. Okung noted the contract is "a bit intricate," per Tom Pelissero of USA Today, who added Okung told reporters he wants to stay in Denver for the long haul. 

"I got the deal that I wanted," said Okung.

Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports weighed in on Okung's ability to negotiate the deal without using an agent:

Garafolo also noted contracts have been created with a similar structure in the past, and Shawn Andrews, who had an agreement like this with the Giants, never saw the final four years of the contract.

Okung has been with the Seahawks since 2010, when he was the sixth overall pick out of Oklahoma State. He was a Pro Bowler in 2012 and part of Seattle's championship team that same year, but injuries have hampered him throughout his career. 

The 28-year-old Okung has never made it through a full 16-game season healthy and has only reached 15 games in a season once. His inability to stay on the field made him one of the most difficult free agents to forecast.  

Even when healthy, Okung's body has taken such a toll over the years that he's proved to be inconsistent. His final game with the Seahawks against Carolina in the divisional round did not provide a strong case for him entering free agency. 

According to Pro Football Focus' grades (h/t Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times) Okung and Garry Gilliam allowed a combined nine quarterback hurries against the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round. 

There was a time when Okung looked like he might evolve into one of the NFL's best offensive tackles, based on Pro Football Focus metrics (via Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider):

Looking at those numbers, this was Okung's best season in three years, but he still has a lot of room to improve regarding his consistency. 

Denver is betting on getting this year's version of Okung. He's not going to be the top-10 offensive tackle he was in 2012, but there were enough positive signs from 2015 to suggest he can be a solid starter in the future. 

La Canfora speculated on what this move means for the future of Ryan Clady:

Rapoport reported earlier in the month the Broncos were working with Clady to restructure his current deal. The arrival of Okung likely indicates that the team was unable to agree to new terms with Clady. Okung will be a much better option at left tackle than Ty Sambrailo, who struggled in his rookie season.

As long as Okung is able to stay healthy, the Broncos will be happy with the production he gives them. It's been a tall order so far, but a new home should be the perfect opportunity for him to reignite his career. 

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