Paying the Rookies, Ctd

With over a dozen players chosen in rounds 1 through 3 signed, Brian McIntyre of updates his look at what the contracts for the Seattle Seahawks' top draft choices will look like.

A little over six weeks ago, I took a look at the contracts that all seven of the Seattle Seahawks 2009 draft picks could expect to receive.

I projected that seventh-round picks Courtney Greene, Nick Reed, and Cameron Morrah would receive signing bonuses between "$40,000-$45,000". Their actual signing bonuses were $40,550 (Morrah), $41,610 (Reed), and $42,650 (Greene).

For sixth-round quarterback Mike Teel I wrote that if he received similar 4.4% increase that last year's fifth pick of the sixth round received, his signing bonus would be a bit north of $116,000. Teel signed for $114,250, so clearly he didn't get as big a bump as I anticipated.

With over a dozen players chosen in rounds 1-3 having signed contracts, and training camp four weeks away, here's an updated look at what first-round linebacker Aaron Curry, second-round center Max Unger, and third-round wide receiver Deon Butler could receive in their rookie contracts.

Aaron Curry (1st round, 4th overall)

First overall pick Matthew Stafford (QB, Detroit Lions) signed a six-year, $72 million dollar contract with $41.7 million in guarantees. Fifth overall pick Mark Sanchez (QB, New York Jets) signed a five-year, $50.5 million dollar contract with $28 million in guarantees.

Quarterbacks generally make more money than players at other positions, so it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Curry's deal, particularly the guaranteed portion, come in at an equal or even lower price tag than what Sanchez received.

What it is becoming increasingly clear is that Curry's contract won't contain a signing bonus in 2009. Instead, Curry's base salary in 2009 (approx. $2.65M) will be fully guaranteed, as will his base salaries in 2010-12 (against cap/skill/injury) and in 2010, he'll receive a guaranteed option bonus, salary advance and/or an NLTBE, as well as more incentives and salary escalators than one could possibly list in an article like this.

Max Unger (2nd round, 49th overall)

With reporting Philadelphia Eagles second-round running back LeSean McCoy's contract details, we're able to get a pretty good idea of what Unger's rookie deal will look like.

McCoy signed a four-year deal worth $3.477 million dollars, including $1.727 million in guarantees. McCoy received a $1.37 million dollar signing bonus and, through minimal playing time and team/individual qualifiers, can earn a one-time, guaranteed NLTBE incentive of $357,000. (It's not in the PFT report, but McCoy's 2012 base salary can increase to $1M through playing time incentives and team/individual qualifiers)

Structurally, Unger's deal probably will look very similar to what McCoy received, but since he was chosen four spots ahead of McCoy, the guaranteed portion of Unger's deal will be higher. A conservative estimate would put Unger's total guaranteed money at just under $2 million dollars, with a signing bonus of around $1.6M and the rest in the form of a NLTBE which Unger should easily earn. Unger's 2012 base salary should also increase to the low RFA tender of $1.308 million dollars if he meets playing time incentives and team qualifier in any of the first three years of the contract.

Deon Butler (3rd round, 91st overall)

Atlanta Falcons third-round cornerback Christopher Owens was chosen one spot ahead of Butler and has already signed his contract. He received a four-year deal with minimal base salaries and a signing bonus of $688,700.

Based on Owens' contract, Butler will probably receive a four-year deal with minimal base salaries and a signing bonus of around $680,000. Through easily attainable playing time incentives and team qualifier in any of the first three years of the contract, his 2012 base salary would also increase to the low RFA tender or $1.308 million dollars.

Another possibility would be to structure Butler's contract in the same way that McCoy's deal is structured. Since NLTBE incentives are not applied to the rookie pool, splitting the guaranteed portion of Butler's contract would lessen his impact on the rookie pool. However, the savings of doing this are so minimal, the only real reason for the Seahawks to do this would be if he were somehow the last unsigned draft choice and the team didn't have the room under the rookie pool to pay the full amount of his guaranteed money in a signing bonus. (The Chicago Bears were forced to do this with 2009 third-round picks Jarron Gilbert and Juaquin Iglesias.)  


Brian McIntyre lives in the Boston area. In addition to writing for, Brian maintains his own blog, where he's tracking the signing status of the 2009 NFL Draft Class, writes for, and charts games for Football Outsiders. If you'd like to e-mail Brian, you may do so by clicking here. Top Stories