I am not a fan of the Seahawks contract with Brandon Marshall

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 12: Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears shakes off the tackle attempt by Robert Alford #23 of the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on October 12, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 12: Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears shakes off the tackle attempt by Robert Alford #23 of the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on October 12, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Seahawks signed Brandon Marshall to a one year “show me” contract this week and I was happy. Then the details came out, and now I’m very concerned.

The Seahawks took a big step toward addressing their relative inexperience at wide receiver this week when they signed former All Pro Brandon Marshall. I wrote this was a smart move for Seattle. As long as 12s tempered their expectations for Marshall better than they did for Jimmy Graham, it could be a great signing. Now the details of his contract are out, and I’m not so sure how smart this move is after all.

It was announced the total value of the deal was about $2 million, and that hasn’t changed. It was generally understood that it was going to be pretty heavy on incentives, much like Eddie Lacy’s contract last year. Although I don’t think the Seahawks are going to pay their newest wide receiver to join Weight Watchers.

What Seattle will pay Marshall to do is catch the ball. Seems reasonable, right? He’s a receiver, he’s supposed to catch the ball. He’s coming off a really tough year, so it’s smart to minimize your investment. It all makes sense. Marshall himself admits he didn’t have many options, so he genuinely seems thrilled to be with the Seahawks. I just wonder how long it will be before he channels B.B. King and sings “The Thrill Is Gone”?

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The Seahawks love incentive clauses

The problem lies with the contract. As ESPN’s Field Yates reported, it’s very heavy on incentives. Marshall got a $90 thousand signing bonus. I’m not sure what that’s about, $90K for an NFL player. Maybe Marshall wants to install a new pool? Anyway, the base salary is just over $1 million, which is set by the labor agreement. Here’s where it gets sticky, at least in my mind.

The incentives could cause trouble, and a lot of it. Incentives are usually a good thing. If the player lives up to what are usually reasonable goals, he makes bank. If he doesn’t, the team minimizes their investment. Both sides can be sort of happy. Well, the team can be happy to pay out the big bucks, because they got a performance to match. The player, well, welcome to the real world sir, where there are few guarantees.

As for Marshall’s contract, there are three separate tiers of incentives here. One tier is for receptions, and another for yardage. The third is really just a set bonus for a minimum of seven touchdowns. Seven touchdowns could be tough, but as he’s expected to be a red zone target,it’s certainly feasible. And I’m sure it’s a bonus the Seahawks would be thrilled to pay.

Brandon Marshall of the Seahawks
FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 24: Brandon Marshall #19 of the Miami Dolphins catches a touchdown pass against the New England Patriots in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

It looks like a rigged game to me

It’s far more likely that Marshall will see a maximum of 80 targets. If he performs exceptionally well and catches 65 percent of those balls, that would give him 52 catches. Which is enough to put him in the $200 thousand incentive range. He isn’t likely to average mush more than 13 yards per catch. His career average is just under that, and he hasn’t topped a 14 yard average in seven years. 52 catches for 13 yards each gives Marshall 676 yards. Surprise, he makes the $200 thousand tier again. For all you purists, here’s Field Yates’ tweet:

Now I could be wrong, and I hope I am. I hope that Marshall is genuinely happy to have the opportunity to play, and will simply do his best to help Seattle win. The thing is, Marshall has never been one to just keep his thoughts to himself. Like most big time wide receivers, he’s got some ego. Make no mistake, he’s had a few off years, but he’s been one of the league’s best. He’s ranked 16th of all time in catches, 23rd of all time in yardage, and those numbers will go up.

I like the incentive contract, but I really wish the Seahawks had made the goals more realistic. There’s no way Pete Carroll and John Schneider expect Marshall to haul in over 70 catches or gain over 800 yards. Especially not when the team will (hopefully) run the ball more than the past two seasons. They should have backed off on the catches and yardage. I’d love to see a bonus for every block that springs a run of 20 plus yards or a touchdown. Well, the contract is done. I just hope Marshall likes it more than I do.