Russell Okung: If The Chiefs Jump Off a Bridge...Should Seahawks Follow?
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"Click -- click, click."
That was the sound of Russell Okung and his representatives checking out of this discussion. In fact, they have already hit the 'back' button on the Seattle Seahawks last week when they suggested to 'league sources' (as reported by NBC Sports), that Okung will only sign a contract if he's paid more than what Eric Berry received from the Chiefs. They have anchored themselves in a position of impracticality.
They have, in essence, asked the Seattle Seahawks to jump off the East Channel Bridge. Without a bungee cord.
Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs signed Eric Berry, the no. 5 pick in this years draft, to a five-year, $60 million contract with $34 million in guarantees.
The play-making safety out of Tennessee, thought to be a 'sure-fire' pick in this years draft class, possesses a mix of smarts, range, and instincts that many pundits dubbed a once-a-generation talent. But 34 million in guarantees before batting down a single NFL pass? It's smacks of figurative usury.
To put this into perspective, Berry is being paid more guaranteed money than Pro-Bowlers Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins and Yeramiah Bell. Combined.
Folks. That's jumping off a bridge. Without a bungee cord.
The NFL rookie signing period is a fairly predictable model. Typically, most players are content to stand-pat and wait until someone else makes a move by signing with their team. This establishes a "crude" market, by which every other pick can establish baselines within their own negotiations. This is called 'slotting'.
As more player contracts are slotted, the market becomes more clarified, and signing (theoretically) becomes easier. If picks 1 and 3 have signed, then the second overall pick should fall somewhere in between. It's comparative market analysis in it's purest form. It works. This is, unless a 'slot-buster' crashes the party.
With the signing of Eric Berry and Joe Hayden (in the 5 and 7 slots respectively), the market for Seattle's 6th overall pick, Russell Okung, should have been clarified over the last week. It hasn't. Okung and his representitives are attempting to 'bust' the 6 slot.
Comparing the slotted picks, with the players still negotiating, is a fairly simple process. It's straight line math.
Gerald McCoy, a defensive lineman out of Georgia was drafted 3rd overall. His contract was slotted at 5 years, 63 million dollars, with 35 million guaranteed.
This years fourth pick, offensive tackle Trent Williams, signed a deal worth 52 million over 5 years (with 37 million in guarantees). An 18% reduction from the 3rd slot. This was probably too steep of a drop in overall contract value, but was made up for in the guaranteed portion.
A similiar type of drop from 4 to 5, would have placed Berry in the 44-50 million dollar range over 5 years. A seemingly realistic figure, given that safeties are generally a lower paid group, and the figure would still have made Berry a top 5 paid NFL safety.
This didn't play out.
Instead, Berry not only jumped the 4 slot (an offensive tackle at that), but nearly leaped over McCoy at 3. He busted his slot.
Russell Okung is asking Seattle to do the same. Only worse. Should Seattle cave to these demands, Okung would more than likely trump the Trent Williams deal, in effect busting -- not one, not two, but three slots. It speaks not only to the lurid state of Berry's deal, but to the unrealistic wants of Seattle's pick.
Clearly Okung's people believe he is a better tackle than Trent Williams, but such is life. The market didn't play out that way on draft day. The market IS what the markets bears, but this isn't stopping Okung's people from maintaining their position.
The premise of their argument is that NFL left tackles typically make more than NFL safeties, and therefore Okung must make more than Berry. This conclusion is wrong. It's known as the 'fallacy of affirming the consequent'.
(This is another part where you may click "back" if you like.)
This breakdown in logic, hinges upon Okung's value being improperly linked to a fallacious dependency (tackles make more than safeties). It would read as follows:
- NFL tackles typically make more than NFL safeties.
- Russell Okung is an NFL tackle.
- Eric Berry is an NFL safety.
- Therefore, Russell Okung should make more than Eric Berry.
It is mistakenly concluded from the second and third premises, that the affirmation of the conclusion entails the truth-hood of the condition. While the generalization that tackles usually make more than safteis may hold true, it doesn't constitute proof within any single comparative occurrence.
Walking down this path of logic leads to a dead end. Ray Willis, for example, is an NFL tackle that we all know won't (or shoudn't) make as much as Eric Berry.
It's a 'slight of hand' that Seattle isn't falling for. There's no proof that Okung is more valuable than Berry is. In fact, history will validate the exact opposite when looking at how teams slot, and subsequently sign players. You make less for getting picked later. It's how the market works.
Furthermore, the representatives for Russell Okung are using the Berry contracts' outlier data, as a means for benchmarking their clients worth. If they were to plot a graph of rookies (and their agreed upon salaries), they would see that Berry's contract is well outside of a standard deviation from the statistical mean.
In layman's terms. "Kansas City got hosed dude".
Based on the players slotted in front of (and behind) Okung, his contract should fall into the 5 year, 50 million dollar range (call it 30 million guaranteed). Still, his reps are choosing to guage their clients value relative to the exception.
I suspect that when all is said and done his contract will be within an expectedly normal range. But at what cost?
The man Russell Okung is replacing (Walter Jones) was so good that he didn't need training camp to dominate. This is rare - - and when I say rare, I mean that you need to be a gamma-ray altered, freak of nature to not conform to this pattern. Rookies however, do.
Rookies need training camps to adjust to NFL life. Without camp, they struggle.
I suggest that Okung's people advise their client to sign. Like yesterday. I also suggest that they brush up on their 'Logocal Negotiation 101 Tactics'.
At bare minimum, don't ask the Seahawks to jump off the same bridge that the Kansas City Chiefs jumped off.
They were watching. It looked painful.
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