Thanks to Mike Florio and Pro Football Talk we already have the breakdown of the Percy Harvin contract with the Seattle Seahawks. Per Florio the deal contains $14.5 million in fully guaranteed money another $11 million that is virtually guaranteed. Harvin will earn $36 million in the first three years.
So keeping those figures in mind we can get a better idea of this deal. First of all I think a trade such as this one is a terrible trade for the Seahawks. To trade so many picks for a slot WR who doubles as a kick returner is just foolish and then compounded a hundred times by paying him like he is one notch below Calvin Johnson. I think Seattle gets a pass for all of their transaction activity these last few years because they play in a small market. The Jets had a label for being trigger happy and running their organization like a Fantasy Football team since Rex Ryan came to town. The Seahawks make the Jets look like the Steelers. They have their fair share of bad signings but most of it is hidden because they do have a stellar defense and they nabbed a QB in the 3rd round last year that was a complete game changer. Take Russell Wilson out of the equation and this move would be considered one of the worst of all time. But with Wilson in place its looked at as a final piece to a puzzle, which is alot of pressure to now put on a second year QB who will now face teams that have had an entire offseason gameplanning him.
I have calculated the new money in the deal to be equal to $64,245,000 which works out to be $12.849 million a year, a ridiculous figure for a player who has yet to reach 1000 yards in a season and sees most of his receptions come close to the line of scrimmage. All that being said the contract itself is a bit more reasonable that its face value.
Upon signing Harvin has $14.5 million in guarantees, all of which will be paid in what is technically the final year of his rookie contract. If things implode Harvin can be released as soon as the waiver period begins. While that would lead to a dead money charge of $9.6 million it would represent a savings in cap of $3.8 million. By comparison Vincent Jackson had a full guarantee of $26 million while Dwayne Bowe collects $16 million in the first year of his contract and has another $9 million that is protected by a dead money charge of $16.25 million that exceeds his $12 million dollar cap charge. So Harvin could in theory by a very expensive 1 year rental while the others are certain to be on the team in the second year of the deal.
All three players have similar two year payouts- Bowe will receive $25 million, Harvin $25.5 million and Jackson $26 million. The third year is where things gets more interesting and show the built in protection the Seahawks have with the contract. In 2015 Harvin will carry a cap charge of $12.9 million. Releasing Harvin saves the team $5.7 million in cap and $10.5 million in cash. He has no guarantees in his contract and it sets the stage for a renegotiation if the player fails to live up to the salary cap numbers. This is exactly what happened to Santonio Holmes of the Jets today and should have happened to Miles Austin in Dallas had the Cowboys not screwed that contract up so badly. The $7.2 million dead number is similar to that of Jackson making that 3rd year harder to attain. Bowe has more protection with a $9 million dead money cost and what will likely be a small guarantee of base salary. The 4th year of Harvin’s contract most likely has no chance of being earned unless he far exceeds expectations and the WR market continues to grow. He will count for $12.3 million in cap space with only $4.8 million in dead money, This is nearly identical to Jackson’s contractual structure. Bowe has slightly more protection through the signing bonus mechanism, though not enough to guarantee anything.
So the bottom line is that despite the numbers for Harvin being significantly higher the real contract is going to be 3 years for $36 million, identical to Bowe and Jackson. Those two have slightly stronger contract, specifically Bowe, but all three are in the same range. So while Harvin’s deal sounds excessive compared to the market its really right in line with the marketplace if you buy Harvin as a dominant player. I don’t but he will get every opportunity to prove people like me wrong.
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.