Given the circumstances, the best thing the Seattle Seahawks could’ve done on draft day was select Aaron Curry over Mark Sanchez, ignoring the hype surrounding the quarterback from Southern Cal. The worst thing that could’ve happened, however, is Mark Sanchez getting drafted with the following pick by the New York Jets.
Quarterbacks, almost by default, receive more compensation than any position on the field. Every play the offense is on the field, the quarterback touches the ball – save for a few snaps out of the Wildcat formation. Games are won and lost by quarterbacks, and they’re some of the most recognizable players for each franchise.
Quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are apparently worth more than $100 million to their respective teams, and Matthew Stafford agreed to a 6-year contract worth $72 million with the Detroit Lions before ever taking a snap in the league.
In June, Mark Sanchez agreed to a five-year contract that includes $28 million dollars in guarantees, making Sanchez the highest-paid player in Jets history. The entire contract is worth $50.5 after incentives are added.
So Aaron Curry, who was drafted one slot before Sanchez and could’ve easily been the first player selected, is worthy of a contract greater than the fifth overall pick, right? Well, his agent most certainly thinks so.
But from Seattle’s perspective, Curry’s contract should not be greater than the one obtained by Sanchez. This is because Sanchez is a quarterback, and almost by default, good quarterbacks make a lot more money than good linebackers. It is difficult for Seattle to negotiate this angle, however, because Curry was drafted after Stafford and before Sanchez. The two other players drafted before Curry include Jason Smith, who agreed to a five-year contract that could be worth close to $62 million, and Tyson Jackson, who remains unsigned. Smith’s contract is also inflated, because franchise offensive tackles typically earn extremely large paydays as well – take Walter Jones, for example.
Although Curry is slotted between three players who’ve signed deals, they’re of positions that arguably command the largest salaries (quarterback and offensive tackle). The best thing that could happen that would likely strengthen Seattle’s negotiating power would be Tyson Jackson agreeing to a deal with the Chiefs. Jackson’s contract will definitely be a better barometer of what Curry is worth, and the Seahawks might hold out on Curry until this happens.
Of course, this strategy isn’t perfect and there is no guarantee that Tyson Jackson will sign a contract anytime soon. Both Seattle and Kansas City are hoping the other side gets a deal done first; if Seattle signs Curry, then Kansas City obtains leverage in negotiations, and vice versa. I’m sure that both teams have exchanged at least a couple of phone calls over the past week or so.
In an unusual set of unfortunate circumstances, Kansas City happens to be the franchise negotiating a rookie contract in front of Seattle. And the general manager of Kansas City is Scott Pioli, who is known to be a hard negotiator and maintains a closed-door policy on contract discussions.
So while it is extremely unfortunate that Aaron Curry is not signed and present in training camp, I don’t blame either side for not getting a deal done. In what could be considered a “perfect storm” that has led to Curry’s absence, Seattle doesn’t have much leverage and will likely overspend if they’re going to get a contract done sooner than later.
Most people will agree it is a business, but Curry is projected as an immediate starting linebacker for Seattle and needs to report to camp as soon as possible. Curry will not be able to make up missed time, and every practice missed may add to what is already a long learning curve in the NFL.
I’m hopeful that Curry agrees to a contract 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. We’ll just have to hope the Chiefs make progress with Tyson Jackson.