Russell Okung #76 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to make a block during a game against the New England Patriots at CenturyLink Field on October 14, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks beat the Patriots 24-23. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Okung made a decision to fire his agent last year and represent himself in contract negotiations when he became a free agent following the 2015 season.
On Thursday, Okung signed a new contract with the Denver Broncos that is reportedly worth as much as $53 million over the next five years.
The problem for Okung is that contract could also be worth $0. That's right. Absolutely nothing at all.
In reality, Okung's contract is a one-year deal worth $5 million, with an additional $3 million in incentives also possible. The Broncos then have an option to pick up the remaining four years of the contract.
According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, the deal has zero guaranteed money. No signing bonus. No guaranteed base salary. Nothing. His 2015 contract has a $2 million (non-guaranteed) base salary, a $2 million roster bonus paid out for making the roster and a $1 million workout bonus for participating in Denver's offseason workout program.
Per Florio, Okung must participate in at least 90 percent of the offseason workouts and be on the roster when the offseason program ends to get the $1 million workout bonus.
Therefore, Okung could be cut during Denver's mini-camp in mid-June and receive absolutely nothing from the Broncos. And the Broncos would have no incentive to keep him on the roster in terms of dead money against the salary cap for money already paid out (via signing bonus).
Essentially, Okung is auditioning for a job from now until the end of training camp. And he's doing so coming off a shoulder injury that required surgery last month.
For a player of Okung's status with a Pro Bowl selection in 2012 and being named an alternate in 2015, that's a joke of a contract.
Okung would have been better suited to just take a one-year, $5 million deal with some modicum of guaranteed money in the way of a signing bonus and go back on the market after the 2016 season.
Here are the rest of the details from Florio:
The Broncos have until the first day of the 2017 league year to exercise the option for 2017. If they do, Okung gets a $1 million option bonus, an $8 million roster bonus, a $2 million guaranteed base salary, and up to $1.5 million in per-game roster bonuses for 2017. His base salary of $9.5 million for 2018 also would become fully guaranteed if the option is exercised, making it a $19.5 million decision for the Broncos after the 2016 season.
If Okung even makes it to the start of the 2016 season. If he does, he needs to perform well enough to persuade the Broncos to pay him $19.5 million guaranteed over two years.
The contract has $1.5 million in per-game roster bonuses from 2018 through 2020, and base salaries of $8.5 million in 2019 and $9 million in 2020.
Now, if he does happen to perform to a high standard, he's also potentially leaving even more money on the table.
The current franchise tag amount for offensive linemen is $13.706 million. That would be a good starting point for negotiations if Okung turned in a Pro Bowl-caliber 2016 season. And with the salary cap continuing to rise by around $10 million a season, Okung could have had solid ground to stand on chasing a deal like that.
Instead, Okung could end up being vastly underpaid over the next five years if he's playing at a premier level.
So to recap, Okung took a contract with zero guaranteed money, a contract that doesn't even guarantee he makes it to training camp with the Broncos this year, a contract that would pay him just $1 million if he doesn't make the roster at the end of the preseason, and a contract that would potentially leave him earning less-than-market-value over the next five seasons if he plays to a Pro Bowl level.
Okung wanted the chance to represent himself and show that players don't have to rely on an agent if they don't want to. He scheduled visits with several teams - Detroit, Pittsburgh, Denver and the New York Giants - and mulled over the options available to him. But in the end, he signed a poorly structured contract with no guarantees and no control.
Okung wanting to tackle the task on his own is admirable, but there is no way to reconcile that an agent couldn't have provided better advice and/or negotiated a better deal.