Are NFL Contracts Changing for the Best?
By Derek Brown
Special to Pro Football Guru
This offseason and free agency we have seen a change in NFL contracts and the way players are negotiating them. There has been a continuous outcry from players that they want to see fully guaranteed contracts, very similar to the ones that NBA players have been receiving for years.
For the most part, both owners and the league have tried to avoid this. The primary controversy has surrounded the increased risk of injury within the NFL in comparison to the NBA and possibility this could hurt a team’s salary cap. An example would be a player being injured and the team he represents, still having to pay the salary. So what has changed and what has helped the change?
Well, the last couple of years we have seen more and more contracts getting closer to being fully guaranteed. One example is Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford, who last year signed a five-year, $135 million contract extension with $92 million guaranteed. With the start of free agency four months ago, quarterback Kirk Cousins made it clear that he only wanted a fully guaranteed contract.
The Minnesota Vikings were willing to meet his request and agreed to an $84 million deal over three years. Recently, the New York Giants then came to an agreement with running back Saquon Barkley. His rookie deal reads four years and a guaranteed $31.2 million.
Will we see more fully guaranteed contracts coming in the future with more players? Time will answer that. However, the previous history surrounding fully guaranteed contracts not being an option in the NFL are long gone. There could to be a potential positive outcome for both teams and players. With clubs already agreeing to pay out such high amounts of money on long term deals, putting that money into shorter fully guaranteed contracts would allow teams the ability to move on sooner from players that might not fit team needs. It would help avoid players holding out to renegotiate on a contract.
For players, it would provide security in knowing they are going to get paid regardless of circumstances and allows them to capitalize as much as possible in a normally short career window.
NOTE: All contract terms courtesy of Spotrac