Russell Okung the agent has quickly mastered one key aspect of the business. He already knows how to make a deal look better than it really is.
Initial reports pegged the deal at being worth $10.6 million per year. One report from NFL Media put it at being worth “up to” $12 million per year.
That’s very impressive. It would be even more impressive if it were, you know, accurate.
The truth, as Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reports and PFT has confirmed, is that it’s a one-year, $5 million deal with a team option for the final four years and $48 million. The guaranteed money at signing is less than $5 million, according to a source with knowledge of the deal.
According to another source, the deal contains up to $3 million in incentives for 2016. After the coming season, it’s a straight, one-year-at-a-time deal.
A one-year, $5 million deal would have made more sense for Okung. If Okung had a huge season, he’d hit the open market or be restrained by the franchise tag, which currently sits at $13.706 million. (The transition tag, at $11.9 million in 2016, also would have been an option.) As it stands, the Broncos have squatter’s rights. If he earns another year, he gets another year. If he doesn’t, they’ll cut him or squeeze him to take less.
In Okung’s defense, plenty of players who have agents have signed similar deals. Typically, a one-year deal with a team-option on the rest is used when the player is recovering from a major injury. New Jaguars tackle Kelvin Beachum did a deal like that earlier in the week. A decade ago, Saints quarterback Drew Brees signed a similar contract while recovering from major shoulder surgery.
Okung also is recovering from shoulder surgery, albeit not major. If he recovers and thrives in Denver, the Broncos will keep him. If he doesn’t, he’ll be back on the market next year. Still, a one-year deal would have positioned him to make a lot more on the back end — especially if he’d finagled a clause preventing the team from tagging him in 2017.