Ex-Hawkeye Millionaire Club Expands

Robert Gallery signed a huge contract on Thursday, expected to be worth $60 million over seven years. The most important aspect of the deal is a reported $18.5 million in guaranteed money. Hawkeyenation.com takes a look at NFl contracts, the money players can expect to get from their contracts and what several Hawkeyes have earned in recent years in signing bonus money and more.

Robert Gallery became the latest member of the ex-Iowa Hawkeye Football Player's Millionaire Club.

He reportedly will receive $18.5 million dollars in guaranteed money for his first NFL contract, and a deal that was reportedly worth $60 million over seven years.

Earlier in the day, Giants QB Eli Manning received a reported $20 million dollars in guaranteed money, which is the all time record for guaranteed money for an NFL rookie. So you can see that Gallery was not far off record pace.

And why not?

Gallery was tabbed as the player in the 2004 draft who was the ‘safest' pick, meaning he was the player that NFL owners could feel best about not being a bust.

He was paid accordingly.

In the NFL, the only money that you are guaranteed is your signing bonus, or other such ‘guaranteed' dollars. The $60 million dollar figure in this contract will not likely be reached…at least in THIS contract.

NFL deals are structured so that they are as friendly to the salary cap as possible. Each team is allowed a finite salary poll with which to fill its roster. Some players get more, and in the case of Gallery, a lot more. But every team is allowed to spend up to the same amount of money.

Signing bonuses are prorated over the life of the contract, which makes the ‘hit' to the cap from year to year easier to swallow.

If a player does not get hurt and is not a flat out bust, you can typically count on the first three years of a deal as being money the player will collect. The early years of Gallery's deal will likely include base salary numbers that will be significantly lower than the later years of the deal.

Those base numbers also impact the salary cap.

So what you will have, if Gallery performs as we all think he will perform, and should he stay healthy, is the Raiders coming to him in year four or five and wanting to offer him a new deal or restructure his contract.

He will then get another signing bonus, and that pushes out the cap hit later into his next contract.

At some point, you have to pay the piper on the cap. There are penalties for outright releasing a player if he is not picked up by another team. The salary cap hit is accelerated, and the prorated years go out the window. That can cripple a team.

The fact of the matter is that Gallery just got a contract that most players strive for…they all strive for that one big payday, and Gallery got his right out of the shoot. It puts him in a great position to get at least one more huge payday in the NFL, as long as he lives up to his billing.

Bob Sanders is also set to join the ex-Hawkeye millionaires club in the next few days, though his deal will be significantly less than what Gallery signed for. However, Bob's signing bonus will be in the seven-figure range.

Nate Kaeding signed a deal with San Diego earlier this week. Specifics were not disclosed, but he probably did not reach millionaire status right off the bat, but he should get to that point after a few years of picking up his base pay on top of what likely was a $500,000 signing bonus, if not more.

Last year, several Hawkeyes became instant millionaires:

Dallas Clark received a $3.8 million dollar signing bonus, and had a base salary of $407,000. His ‘cap hit' was right at $950,000. Second round choice Eric Steinbach received a signing bonus of $1.76 million while second round pick Bruce Nelson received a signing bonus just under $1.4 million.

The year before, Ladell Betts received more than $1.3 million in signing bonus money. Jared DeVries also received a signing bonus in 2003 of $825,000.

Before Gallery's monster deal, the head of the ex-Hawkeye Football Players Millionaire Club was Tim Dwight.

In 2002, Tim Dwight cashed in on his ‘big payday', landing a $5 million dollar signing bonus, plus base pay of $600,000. His base pay for 2003 was $900,000, plus another bonus of over $1 million.

In this day and age of the NFL, if you get picked in the first two rounds, you are going to be an instant millionaire. Iowa has added five players to that list in recent years, and there are several future millionaires who will be suiting up in the black and gold this fall.

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