If the reported contract numbers and Pete Carroll are telling the truth, the Seahawks won the six-day game of chicken against Russell Okung’s agent.
Okung’s deal has been reported as a six-year contract worth up to $58 million, with about $30 million guaranteed.
If it is indeed a straight six-year deal, with no option for Okung to void the sixth year, the Seahawks definitely won—getting the left tackle for six years at a slightly below-market average of $5 million per year in guaranteed money.
And, if that’s the case, there’s no way this should have dragged on a week into camp.
“This could have been done sooner,” Carroll told reporters. “We stood very strong. I really think (General Manager) John (Schneider) did a great job of hanging in there and holding the line where we wanted to.”
The holdup was first thought to be length of deal, with agent Peter Schaffer understandably wanting five years.
Then came informed speculation that Schaffer wanted Okung to be paid a premium for a sixth year and/or be paid more than safety Eric Berry, who was drafted one spot ahead of Okung.
But, on the surface, it does not appear he got any of that.
The only way this deal makes sense for Schaffer and Okung is if the sixth year is voidable based on Okung’s performance.
Otherwise, the Seahawks got Okung for the amount of time they wanted and for less guaranteed money than they should have had to pay.
No. 4 pick Trent Williams, also an offensive tackle, and No. 5 pick Berry each signed six-year deals worth $60 million. No. 7 pick Joe Haden, a cornerback, got $50 million over five years. So, Okung’s $9.67 million per season in the overall deal is perfectly in the ballpark.
But, as with all NFL contracts, the overall value is really just for show. In the NFL, it’s all about guaranteed money. Players usually get that money within the first three years through various bonuses; but, for slotting purposes, the best way to compare guaranteed money is to break it down by year.
Williams received $36.75 million in guarantees, an average of about $6.1 million per year, while Berry got $34 million, an average of $5.67 million. Haden received $26 million, or $5.2 million per year. All fall into proper slotting order.
However, if Okung’s $30 million over six years is correct, Schaffer certainly did not get the sixth-year premium he allegedly was looking for, because Okung’s guaranteed cash averages $5 million per year—less than Haden’s.
If the sixth year can be voided, the guaranteed money would break down to about $6 million per year—which would achieve Schaffer’s reported goal of surpassing Berry’s contract. But, according to Carroll, it doesn’t sound like Schneider gave in on that.
It’s quite possible that Schaffer was concerned only with the total values, getting bonus money between Haden’s $26 million and Berry’s $34 million in a deal that averaged about $10 million per year in the total package.
But if that’s all he wanted, there’s absolutely no way this should have gone on as long as it did.
The complete details will trickle out eventually, and then we’ll all know what the holdup was and be better able to judge this deal.
In the meantime, the Seahawks’ offensive line just got better than it has been in three years.