When a high-profile player signs a big-money contract, the only money that truly matters is the money that’s fully guaranteed at the time the contract is signed. Agents, however, routinely blur the line between fully-guaranteed payments and sums guaranteed for injury only, because that results in a bigger number being recited by the information robots who will pass along whatever is provided to them without question, scrutiny, or critical analysis.
Rarely does the injury guarantee ever really matter, especially as it relates to franchise quarterbacks. Because franchise quarterbacks rarely have injuries that call their careers in to question.
For Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, the injury guarantees in his 2016 contract extension matter, since there’s currently no guarantee he’ll ever play again.
So far, Luck has received $57 million from the Colts under his second contract. Luck has another $30 million in payments guaranteed for injury — $18 million due in 2018 and another $12 million that becomes payable in March of 2019.
The Colts can avoid that obligation only by trading Luck. And while the shoulder injury would make that proposition less palatable for a prospective employer, a new team could get him for what amounts to a four-year, $82 million contract with $30 million guaranteed and no signing bonus.
Apart from the compensation the Colts would want for Luck, the financial side seems very reasonable in light of the current quarterback market. Of course, the Colts also would have to want to move on from Luck. Or, perhaps more accurately, Luck would have to want to move on from the Colts.
Most importantly, the team that acquires Luck would have to believe he’s healthy.