We finish our best and worst contract series with the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks
Best Contract: Max Unger
I know this is going to be a complete rehash of last year’s post on Seattle but there is really no reason to change anything with this selection. Max Unger is one of the top centers in the NFL and one of the reasons the Seahawks offensive line continues to be a strength for the team.
Seattle has a tendency to jump high on certain players either with high value contracts or favorable contract structures. Unger did not get that. Rather than jumping up into the Nick Mangold/Ryan Kalil contract territory, which one may have expected, they signed Unger to a reasonable contract, one that only looks more reasonable in light of the Maurkice Pouncey and Alex Mack contracts. There were no outlandish guarantees as just his 2013 salary was fully guaranteed and at any point after that he could have potentially been released.
Unger’s contract, which was worth just under $25 million for 4 seasons, represented a 24% savings in annual value over Ryan Kalil’s contract with the Panthers. His $11.5 million in guarantees is less than Chris Myers of the Texans and Scott Wells of the Rams had at the time the contract was signed. The contract itself is also a well structured deal with no real peaks or valleys making the cap management job of such a player relatively worry free. His cap charges fluctuate from $5.6 to $6.1 million, though there is some room for small escalators to advance those numbers.
The contract figures are very manageable and with no spikes there is never a point where the Seahawks will be forced to renegotiate the terms of the contract for cap relief which has already happened multiple times with Kalil. This is the kind of deal that both sides should be happy with over the term of the contract especially if Unger continues to prove himself to be one of the best in the game. This is the type of solid veteran contract that allows the Seahawks to go out and take chances on some of the more questionable deals they have done over the years.
Worst Contract: Percy Harvin
There are 11 receivers in the NFL who have contracts worth over $8.5 million a season. Of those 11 just one failed to produce a 1,000 yard season before signing a new contract. That one player is Percy Harvin, whose contract is worth a whopping $12.849 million a season.
There is almost no justification in the entire decision making process as it related to Harvin. Harvin was unhappy with the Minnesota Vikings and wanted out of Minnesota unless he received a new contract. Harvin had minimal leverage. He was coming off another injury filled season that saw him appear in just 9 games. Harvin was very productive in those games, but teams are always cautious with players who seem to miss at least a game each season.
Seattle came in and threw a number 1 draft pick at the Vikings to take Harvin. Believing that Harvin’s production was hurt by the Vikings lack of offense they assumed he would perform much better in Seattle. They put a big value on the fact that Harvin was kind of a jack of all trades that was a very good kick returner and could also run the football. Kind of like what the Bears did with Devin Hester, except at 2.5 times the cost.
The team bought in at huge dollars and gave themselves no protection. There are no roster bonuses tied to health, despite the fact that Harvin was recently injured and you could pencil him in for at least one missed game a season and a few late week decisions. Harvin received a $12 million signing bonus that likely protects his roster spot through 2015.
As a receiver Harvin has no additional negotiating leverage than Victor Cruz of the Giants and was statistically inferior to Cruz. Cruz had to settle for $8.6 million a year and a $9.5 million signing bonus. In fact of all the players who earn over $7 million a season Harvin is just one of three players to have not produced a 1,000 receiving yard season before signing. The other two were Pierre Garcon ($8.5M) and Mike Williams ($7.924M). Harvin should have been paid in that $8-$9 million a year range, but somehow he made Mike Wallace’s $12 million a season contract look a bit less comical.
Harvin missed all but one game in the 2013 regular season, before making his return in the playoffs. He had three big plays in the Super Bowl, including a kick return for a touchdown. The Seahawks need to see a lot more of that to justify the contract that the signed with Harvin.
2013’s Best and Worst Seahawks Contracts:
2013 Best Contract: Max Unger (See above)
2013 Worst Contract: Zach Miller (Reworked contract to remain on team)
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.