by: Chris Sullivan
The New York Jets have signed Mark Sanchez to a contract that will make him the richest Jet in the history of the storied franchise. Wow. What's more incredible about this is that Sanchez signed so early -- my guess is that he didn't expect to make nearly this much money and signed as soon as he had a chance. Way to go Jets, I'm sure Leon Washington will be ecstatic.
Sanchez will earn an average of $10 million a year for 5 years, with escalators in his contract that can get him up to $60 million. $28 million is guaranteed.
This matters to you for two reasons:
1) If we had drafted Sanchez, we would likely be paying him the same amount of money for 16 games started and mediocre (by most reports) mini-camp performances. Wow.
2) This will have some effect on the contract of Aaron Curry, as he was taken one pick before Sanchez.
Now, contracts are a funny, funny thing. Follows is an excerpt explaining Chris Long's contract details. Long was selected #2 last year by the Rams, and the Hawks will likely sign to Curry to a similar contract. Here we go:
Long's deal, like the players selected around him this year, does not include a signing bonus. Instead, there is a roster bonus of $2.605 million this year, plus a first-year base salary of $295,000. The subsequent salaries are $3.625 million for 2009, $4.35 million in 2010, $5.075 million in 2011, $5.8 million in 2012 and $3.285 million in 2013. Those six years total $25.035 million. The base salaries are guaranteed from 2009 through 2012, and this year's roster bonus and salary, for all practical purposes, are guaranteed.
It has been said the sixth year of the deal is a club option, and this is how that works. The Rams can buy out the sixth year by paying Long $16.2 million in 2009. Should they do that, the base salaries reduce to $285,000 in 2009, $1.11 million in 2010, $1.835 million in 2011 and $2.569 million in 2012. That would add about $13 million in value to the contract.
There are also escalators in the contract, providing a significant jump in salary for 2010-2012 if Long reached minimum playing time and team qualifiers in either 2008 or 2009. His total base salaries would increase $19 million ($6 million in 2010, $6.56 million in 2011 and $6.44 million in 2012).
In addition, Long can earn a maximum total of $4.015 million for various incentives, including rookie awards, Pro Bowls and number of sacks.
The bottom line is this: The maximum value of the deal over six years is $55.75 million. However, with the likelihood it would reduce to five years, the maximum total value is $48 million. The true guaranteed money is $21.75 million, which includes his 2008 compensation.
So, as you can see, NFL contracts are friggin' nutty and generally quite manageable. The average annual salary may often mean nothing at all, because you can renegotiate contracts at a certain point. Mind you, Aaron Curry will be a very wealthy man, but he will not sink the team in attaining that wealth.