Russell Okung is expected to start at left tackle this season for the Seattle Seahawks.
Okung isn’t just any starting left tackle; he is responsible for filling at least some of the void created when Walter Jones retired following last season.
No one anticipates Okung will be the next Walter Jones – there will never be another player like him – but expectations are high following Seattle’s steep investment.
Okung, however, remains unsigned. And unlike Walter Jones, time lost in training camp could deter his development as a professional football player. Ideally, as a rookie, you’d like to see him in camp from day one.
Unfortunately, rookie salaries are a huge problem. It is becoming increasingly difficult to sign higher draft picks before training camp opens, and rookies reporting late is a dilemma faced by teams around the league.
And even more unfortunate is the reported news that Russell Okung and the Seattle Seahawks are “not even close” on a contract.
Apparently, Okung wants to exceed the contract given to Eric Berry, who was picked one spot higher last April. Since rookie contracts are typically slotted, the Seahawks are unlikely to give him a contract larger than Berry’s.
On Friday, Berry signed a six-year deal with a maximum value of $60 million with $34 million guaranteed. He is the highest paid safety in the National Football League even though he has never played a single down in the regular season.
Safeties, however, typically earn less than offensive tackles. And since Okung is expected to play the premier left tackle position, it is reasonable for him to want more than a safety. The Seahawks probably won’t budge.
Everyone wants Okung in camp, but I doubt the Seahawks will pay him more than Berry. With the players selected before and after Okung signed, you’d think contract negotiations would be a lot easier.
We haven’t even considered whether Okung and the Seattle Seahawks are looking at a five- or six-year deal. Whatever is on the table right now is unknown.
Fans can only hope whatever is on the table is close to being finished.