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Clayton: Russell Okung’s deal with Denver could be historically bad

Mar 22, 2016, 7:01 PM
Russell Okung, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, received no guaranteed money in his new dea...
Russell Okung, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, received no guaranteed money in his new deal. (AP)
(AP)

One of the more intriguing stories heading into the NFL offseason was how Russell Okung would do serving as his own representation in free agency.

On Thursday, the one-time Pro Bowl left tackle made his decision, leaving the Seahawks to join the Broncos on a five-year, $48 million deal – sort of. As it turns out, the contract doesn’t include a single dollar of guaranteed money, and Denver has the option after 2016 to either pay him $48 million for four years or cut ties with him completely.

ESPN NFL senior writer John Clayton levied his verdict on Okung’s performance as an agent on 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Bob, Groz and Tom,” and it’s safe to say he’s not a fan.

“It’s horrible,” Clayton said. “It’s now starting to be regarded as maybe the worst contract for a sub-30, Pro Bowl-caliber player ever done in free agency.”

As for why, the Broncos’ option to walk away after next season is just part of the equation.

Okung, who is coming off shoulder surgery and has a history of ankle and leg issues, first has to be active in a team workout before he sees any money. That will account for $1 million. Another $2 million will come in the form of a bonus if he makes Denver’s 53-man roster, and he would then have a $2 million base salary for 2016. He’ll have a chance to make another $3 million through incentives tied to playing time.

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“In this case it’s even worse than we imagined. In some ways you could look at this as a one-year, $3 million contract, or in one way, maybe a one-year, $1 million contract,” Clayton said. “What happens if he blows out an Achilles and gets hurt? All the risk went on Russell Okung.”

The deal also doesn’t give Okung the ability to capitalize if he ends up playing a stellar 2016 for the Broncos.

“To make matters worse, let’s say that he has a great season. He’d be in a position as a free agent, if he just did a simple one-year deal, that he could hit the market and get above $12 million a year. But no, he had to go ahead and do this deal,” said Clayton. “You just shake your head.”

The contract doesn’t offer any security should the Broncos come across another option at left tackle they like better, either.

“What happens if the Denver Broncos are sitting down there at the bottom of the first round (of the NFL Draft) and a left tackle drops to them? Is it possible that they could say, ‘You know what, we’re just gonna trade you because there’s no guarantee that we need to have you’ and ship him over to Detroit or another team?

“It’s so team-favorable it’s unbelievable.”

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Clayton: Russell Okung’s deal with Denver could be historically bad