Once again, the Seattle Seahawks have been unable to sign their first draft pick. And again, their largest investment of the offseason will report to training camp late.
Last year, Aaron Curry reported to training camp eight days late. Curry, like Okung, was penciled in as an immediate starter following his top-ten selection in the NFL draft.
And like Okung, Curry’s selection in the first round couldn’t have been at a worse position.
Following Curry’s selection at fourth overall, the New York Jets picked quarterback Mark Sanchez. In June of 2009, Sanchez agreed to a five-year deal worth around $50.5 million with $28 million in guarantees.
Because Curry was drafted ahead of Sanchez, his representatives thought it would be appropriate for him to receive a larger contract.
Quarterbacks, however, always make more money than other positions on the football field. Sanchez received a larger contract than Tyson Jackson, the third overall pick last season. Matt Ryan of Atlanta signed the largest rookie contract of any player in 2008 despite being chosen third overall.
Sanchez was selected one spot after Aaron Curry, which created a dilemma for both sides during negotiations. A perfect storm led to Curry’s absence.
This season, the Seattle Seahawks face a similar dilemma with rookie Russell Okung.
Prior to the Seahawks selecting Okung, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Eric Berry fifth overall. Berry recently signed a six-year, $60 million deal that includes $34 million guaranteed, making him the highest-paid safety in NFL history.
Not bad for a rookie who has never played a down in the league, huh? Okung’s representatives want more.
Despite being chosen one spot later than Berry, Okung wants more compensation. Peter Schaffer, Okung’s agent, is probably thinking that a premier, franchise left tackle should always earn more than a defensive back.
In most cases, he is correct. But the Seattle Seahawks are unlikely to budge and would prefer a slotted salary (Okung earns more than players picked after him but less than those picked before).
In addition to putting a premium on particular positions, there is also a problem with contract length.
Just like the perfect storm that led to Curry’s absence, Okung’s situation seems to be unusually coincidental.
Three of the five players picked in front of Okung have signed six-year deals; the players chosen after Okung have signed five-year deals. Okung is conveniently stuck in the middle.
The Seahawks would obviously prefer a six-year deal, but that means Okung would have to put off free agency for one more year. A longer deal would obviously warrant more guaranteed money.
Ndamukong Suh, drafted second overall, recently signed a five-year deal with the Detroit Lions. This won’t help the Seahawks add another year on Okung’s contract, but it may lead to him reporting to camp sooner.
I’m hopeful Okung and the Seahawks can come to terms soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he misses more time in camp. At this point, it would be great to see the Seahawks get something done by the end of this week.
Until then, I suppose we can look forward to watching more of Mansfield Wrotto at left tackle.