In response to the decision to push nearly $700,000 in 2015 and 2016 base salary to workout bonuses in Jets quarterback Geno Smith’s rookie contract, one high-level team executive made this observation: “It would be great for established agents to explain why they aren’t using this structure.”
Two of them have provided an explanation to PFT.
Both said that it’s not prudent to hinge significant payments on participation in the offseason program, since it limits significantly the player’s flexibility during the months of March through June. With, as one of the agents explained it, 90 percent of the teams now putting the minimum participation limit at 90 percent, players who have workout bonuses can lose them without missing many workouts.
Also, the bonus hinges not only on participation in OTAs but also in showing up for the lifting and conditioning phases of the offseason program.
“While true almost all quarterbacks participate, not everyone does it at such a high amount,” the other agent said. “It isn’t just OTA’s, it is the whole program, and not all of them feel they need or want to be there the for all of the strength work. A lot do it on their own with their own trainers.”
Hinging big money on participation in the offseason program also prevents a player who isn’t happy with his contract from making a statement at no financial risk. If, for example, Smith becomes a star and wants a new contract after three seasons, he’d lose more than $400,000 if he boycotts the offseason program as leverage for a new deal.
This year, Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks stayed away from OTAs, presumably to minimize his injury risk in a contract year. Smith could do the same thing in 2015, but at a significant cost.
“There is a reason teams are the ones always pushing for workout bonuses in deals and not the players and agents,” the second agent said.
So while teams may try to get more agents to agree to the same structure the Jets used with Geno Smith, don’t count on many established agents agreeing to those terms.