Russell Okung bet on himself.
That's the crux of his 5-year, $53 million contract with the Denver Broncos. Not a single dollar is guaranteed in his contract.
"John Elway is laughing in his corner office at the UCHealth Training Center," seems to be the popular sentiment now that more details have come out.
In some circles, a contract like that is a no-no. In those same circles, you're also not supposed to negotiate your own deal, either, just as Okung did. The new left tackle for the Broncos doesn't have an agent.
"It's the worst deal in the history of professional sports."
"Okung the agent screwed Okung the player."
Let's take a deep breath.
No contract in the NFL is fully guaranteed. Teams have multiple outs for any contract, even ones negotiated by agents. If people want to get upset, fix that antiquated policy. Every single dollar of every single contract should be guaranteed in the NFL. The fact it's not is an incredible disservice to the players and shows how teams truly feel about them.
If you want to get upset about contracts, focus on that issue.
To get riled up about the look of a contract because it doesn't fit the norm of how it should look, is beyond ridiculous.
The first year of the contract is where people have the biggest issue.
In that first year, Okung has a $1 million workout bonus, $2 million base salary and $2 million roster bonus for being on the 53-man roster for any game. The Broncos can release Okung prior to Week 1 without paying him the other $4 million.
To get the $1 million workout bonus on the contract, Okung must participate in at least 90 percent of the offseason workouts and be on the roster when the program ends.
With bonuses, Okung's contract is worth up to $8 million in the first year.
After the first year, the remainder of the $48 million is in club options, and 2017 must be exercised by the first day of the league year.
In terms of salaries, it breaks down to: $2 million, $2 million, $9.5 million, $8.5 million, $9 million for up to $31 million.
The roster bonuses breaks down to: $2 million, $9.5 million, $1.5 million, $3.5 million, $3.5 million for up to $20 million.
After the first year, the contract becomes a four-year deal worth $12 million per year with $20.5 million guaranteed.
In simple English: Okung bet on himself.
He has supreme confidence that he will succeed and make every dollar of the $53 million max value on the contract. It's all in his control. It's on him to make sure he rehabs, is in the best shape possible and knows the system. That he's on the field and playing at the level he expects.
How many of us would love to have that kind of control?
No agent = no signing bonus and no guaranteed money at signing. But at least he won't have to pay a fee on that.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 18, 2016
How many players in the NFL would love to control the fate of their contract like that?
In terms of the NFL, he should be applauded for that, not mocked. Whether an agent negotiates a contract or not, the ultimate power rests with the team. There are so many outs for teams to get rid of players and renege on deals it's ridiculous.
As noted above, contracts in the NFL are not fully guaranteed. That is unlike MLB and the NBA.
If people have a problem with contracts, harp on that. Rile against the NFLPA for not sticking up for its players to make that happen. Call out the NFL and its owners for showing what they really think of the players.
When you mock a guy who bets on himself to succeed because it goes against the norms, that raises all sorts of red flags.
It makes you wonder if these same courageous people behind their keyboards would have the same confidence in themselves that Okung showed.
Would they have the unfiltered belief to gamble on themselves? To put the control in their hands? If you succeed, you make money. If you don't, you make nothing and don't play for a Super Bowl contender. You may not play in the NFL again.
It's more likely they choose the path of least resistance. They want the handout. They take the easy money. They don't want to earn it.
Okung bet on himself.
For that, he should be applauded, not mocked.