By Tony Softli
My years in the NFL as a front office executive, we always talked about the NFL catching up with other American professional sports leagues (NBA, MLB, NHL) that pay out guaranteed contracts. The reality of most NFL contracts have proven the player receives a large portion of their deal through signing bonus which is guaranteed. A high percentage of NFL contracts are back loaded for the most part and the maximum value of player contracts won’t be paid out as we saw this week in the cases of former Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman 13 million and former Miami Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh 26.1 million in the last years of there deals.
The NFLPA (Players Association) calculations, roster & signing bonuses along with other guaranteed compensation accounts for more than 70 percent of all payments to players. The players understand football is a 100% injury inhabited collision sport and in many cases their are catastrophic injuries. Players will get injured at some point in their career from the pounding they take. Despite game rule changes, training camp contact which has been cut out and the extended time off during the off season to allow players to heal from the last season, NFL players see the massive guaranteed salaries in the other professional sports that don’t have the financial reality of 14 billion revenue.
Today the Minnesota Vikings opened Pandora’s Box offering Free Agent QB Kirk Cousins a three year contract worth $84 million. The Cousin contracts is reported as fully guaranteed. Its the first of its kind to be offered to a player and filed with the NFL League office in New York. While the NFL certified agent community hopes that this will be the norm moving forward, their clients are also going crazy with high fives and doing back flips. This fully guaranteed contract has the other 31 NFL owners scrambling and looking at the Vikings organization and saying what the hell are they doing over there. Im sure the NFLPA has this on the upcoming agenda for the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) negotiations in 2020 and the injury guarantees will be a big topic in upcoming contracts as well.