On consecutive days this week, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and Texans running back Arian Foster received new contracts carrying large chunks of fully, non-phony guaranteed money. Lynch got $17 million fully guaranteed on a four-year deal, and Foster (per a source with knowledge of the contract) will pocket $20.75 million fully guaranteed on a five-year contract.
Specifically, Foster snagged a $12.5 million signing bonus, a $5 million fully guaranteed base salary for 2012, and $3.25 million in fully guaranteed base salary for 2013. (His total base salary in 2013 will be $5.25 million.)
In each year of the contract, Foster can earn up to $500,000 in per-game active roster bonuses. (Specifically, he makes $31,250 for each game that he suits up for action.)
His base salaries for 2014, 2015, and 2016 are $5.75 million, $6 million, and $6.5 million, respectively.
For accounting purposes, the cap numbers are $7.9 million in 2012, $8.25 million in 2013, $8.75 million in 2014, $9 million in 2015, and $9.5 million in 2016.
Not bad for an undrafted guy who has been in the league for only three years.
The disappearance under the 2011 CBA of the highest possible restricted free agent tender, which would have qualified the Texans for a first-round and third-round draft pick if Foster had left for a new team, likely had a role in getting the Texans to put so much money on the table. Previously, when Foster had no real leverage, the Texans paid him as little as possible — offering only the three-year veteran minimum for 2011 as a reward for leading the league in rushing in 2010.
Thanks to the risk that someone like the Patriots or the Packers or the Giants may have gladly given up a low first-round pick in exchange for one of the best young backs in the league, Foster got his money without having to write “pay me, Rick” or any other messages on his shoes.