Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Mar 2006

Vikings Sign All-Pro Hutchinson to Offer Sheet

Looks like Seattle will be losing All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson. The Seahawks had placed the transition tag on Hutchinson, giving them the right to match any contract offers Hutchinson signed elsewhere. Minnesota is doing everything in their power to make sure Seattle can't match this deal, by including $16 million in guaranteed money in the deal and, according to ProFootballTalk.com, a 2006 cap hit of over $13 million.

Posted by: Al Bogdan on 13 Mar 2006

102 comments, Last at 21 Mar 2006, 12:54am by andrew


by Israel (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 10:07am

Is this going to be another year of picking the resurgent Vikings or do we wait to see who is under center first?

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 10:36am

Looks like the Seahawks screwed up by not using the franchise tag on Hutchinson. I guess teams with lots of cap space can 'front load' their contracts by using roster bonus payments. Makes good sense if you've got the cap space to spare.

by The Other Vlad (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 12:11pm

Wow. Hutch is good, but that's a lot of money for an interior lineman.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 12:22pm

From a blog entry by Mike Sando:

There have been some conflicting reports about exactly how much the Steve Hutchinson contract would count against the salary cap in 2006. I have seen the $13 million figure floated, but the figure that makes most sense to me at this time is $8.585 million. My understanding is that the seven-year, $49 million offer from Minnesota included a $10 million signing bonus, a $6 million roster bonus this year and a 2006 base salary of $585,000.

One way to get to $13 million (closer to $14 million, actually) would be for the 2006 base salary to be $5.85 million instead of $585,000. But my understanding was that the first-year base salary was at the minimum level, which would be $585,000 for Hutchinson. A definitive picture should emerge in the coming days.

If the first-year cap figure is $8.585 million, that's not a prohibitive number. Hutchinson is already counting $6.391 million against the Hawks' cap as a transition player. So matching the Vikings' offer would eat up an additional $2.194 million of cap space. That's not a killer for a team with some $17 million in cap space.

As noted previously, the question will be whether Seattle wants to pay Hutchinson what the Vikings have offered him. If the first-year cap number is somehow $13 million, that is a harder number to swallow, but Seattle has the cap room to make it work. Again, it's a value judgment.

Blog linked in my name.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 12:24pm

Uh.. heh.. ignore that last website url. Try this one.

Anyway, if it's only a 8.585(2.194) million cap hit then I'm not so worried about this.

If it's $13, then I'm sad :(

by Drew (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 12:28pm

I must agree with #3. Even if it's "only" $8.6M, that's still a ton for a guard. That's top-tier tackle money.

by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 12:32pm

The transition tag is of little use. I don't understand why they didn't make him their franchise player.

by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 12:40pm

This from pft:

" Apart from a 2006 cap number that exceeds $13 million, the offer sheet contains a provision that makes the entire deal guaranteed if Hutchinson at any point becomes anything other than the highest paid player on the team.

From Seattle's perspective, that's a big problem, in light of the Walter Jones contract. If the Seahawks match, Hutchinson's deal could indeed become fully guaranteed from day one."

If you're Seattle this has to suck.

Full article on my name.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 12:52pm

I don't think they have to match the whole contract down to the letter. It would seem that is an unreasonable thing to match.

by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 12:52pm

For comparison, can anyone remember what Mike Wahle got last year from Carolina?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 12:58pm

If the poison pill provision story is accurate, there is no way the Seahawks can fully guarantee the contract from day one; if Hutchinson blows out a knee in pre-season, Seattle would be completely up the creek. It is somewhat risky for the Vikings as well, but given they'll have at least a year or two before they have to consider the possibility of a higher-paid player, they can work around it with some adjustments down the road.

It has been obvious for a couple years now, but the Vikings' cap guy, Brezinski (sp?), is one of the better ones. It'll be interesting to see him work with an owner who isn't committed to working on a shoestring.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:01pm

Matthew, they have to match the "principal terms" of the offer, whatever that means. I'm guessing that a stipulation that Player X always be the highest paid player on a team is probably a "principal term," but that's for an arbitrator/special master to decide.

Kudos to the Vikings for crafting an offer that would be difficult for the Seahawks to match. But I wonder how the Vikings plan to maintain Hutch as the highest paid player on the team? How much is Culpepper costing them right now?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:02pm

matthew, I think the CBA calls for a match for any provision that addresses cash guarantees. Seattle may try to arbitrate the issue, but I don't think their chances of prevailing are wonderful.

Geez, ya' almost have to be a contracts litigator to do NFL punditry these days.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:09pm

Coltrane, I think it'll go to how "highest paid player" is defined, which I'm sure it is set out in explicit detail in the offer sheet, in a manner which gives the Vikings a year or two wriggle room, while pitting the screws to the Seahawks immediately. If Culpepper still had any delusions of the Vikings sweetening his deal, however, they should now be gone.

by rageon (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:10pm

As a Broncos fan, I've definetly come to appreciate the value of a solid offensive line, but this just seems like too much money. And to guarantee that a guard will be the highest paid player on the team seems a little crazy.

by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:18pm

Beware the winner's curse.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:23pm

Yeah, well, it all depends on how "highest paid player" is defined, and how many years the Vikings will have prior to facing that possibility.

I think the new cap number is going to surprise all of us, in terms of what it produces in new contracts. Geez, cb Brian Williams who has never been much more than a slightly above-average (and only sporadically) player for the Vikings, just got a 10 million dollar bonus from the Jaguars.

It all has to analyzed from the vantage point of the existing roster. Childress' strategy is likely to be to build a very dominant running attack on the left side, with a healthy Birk back at center, an emerging Bryant Mckinnie at left tackle, and Hutchinson between them. This will make the passing game easier to execute, no matter who is playing quarterback, and, if the Vikings become the sort of team that controls the ball for long stretches of time, it makes the Tampa-two defense being installed easier to execute as well.

Of course, most strategies look good in theory, but the test comes when they are put into practice. We'll see.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:37pm

Last night, when I was hearing that it'd be a $13M cap hit, I thought Hutch would be a Viking. But with Sando reporting much more moderate numbers (~$8M, and he's already ~$6M against the cap today) I'm starting to think maybe the Seahawks will match. At least, I wouldn't be surprised by it at this point.

As Will indicated, the new salary cap means we'll probably see a lot of inflated figures. Even for guards. Swallowing an $8M cap hit this year, and then $6M-$7M in future years, is probably not out of line with what the FO expected (it'd be cheaper than repeatedly franchising him). The "poison pill" complicates things, but I suspect they'll figure out a way to get it done.

by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:41pm

Re: 17

After underperforming during his first few years in the league, McKinnie really stepped it up in 2005 and established himself as one of the best tackles in the game. Despite the fact that his rush blocking has improved, he has always been and continues to be far better in pass protection than in the running game. In other words, he's no Walter Jones. Birk once was one of the best centers in the NFL, but he did not play particularly well in 2004. I think he's on the downside of his career. Basically, the Vikings would be sticking Hutchinson between two slightly-above-average-at-best run-blockers, so if you are right about their strategy, I'm not sure it's going to work.

Also, I believe that McKinnie's rookie contract is up after this season. It'll be interesting to see whether the Vikings are able to re-sign him if they have to deal with Hutchinson's contract. I'd rather have McKinnie than Hutchinson any day.

by ABW (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:47pm

Well, when Mike Wahle gets a 5 year $28.5 million deal and LeCharles Bentley and Keven Shaffer get $36 million over 6 years I suppose it kind of makes sense that Hutchinson is worth $49 million over 7 years.

Still, those are serious bucks to be paying the interior of your O-line. I don't think there's enough marginal value to spend like that on guards, especially when it's not like Minnesota doesn't have needs on defense.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:49pm

Birk's performance will depend on his health; he played extremely well in 2004, if one considers he was playing with sports hernias. I have no insight was to what his health is now, and what it is likely to be in the future, so I can't say with any confidence what his performance is likely to be.

I suspect that McKinnie may have franchise designation in his future, given I also suspect that Hutchinson's offer sheet has language which excepts frachised players from the "highest paid" definition. In other words, I think the offer sheet was specifically designed with Walter Jones' recent contract as the model for the "highest paid" definition, giving the Vikings wriggle room.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 1:52pm

ABW, this isn't a wonderful free agent class on defense, and I suspect that Hutchinson's cap number next year will be manageable, given it is so high this year.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 2:08pm

Does anybody remember how a career-ending injury is handled cap-wise? I mean, if a player's 49 million dollar contract becomes completely guaranteed, and then he suffers a career-ending injury, at what point, if ever, does the cap acceleration kick in? Can the team carry such a player on the IR or PUP list for years, thus paying the player, while avoiding cap acceleration? Or is the team forced to release the player at some point, thus accelerating the balance of the contract as part of the current cap limit?

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 2:23pm

Re: 23

Didn't Denver carry Terrell Davis on the PUP list for a few years? I would think that would be legit.

I wouldn't think IR would be allowed once the player has 'recovered' (at least as much as he's going to recover).

by MDD (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 2:46pm

Considering how much the Seahawks are already paying for their offense, I don't think they can match the guaranteed money poison pill. That seems to be a pretty underhanded clause, and the mere fact that Hutch and his agent negotiated it with the Vikings swings things towards letting him go quite a bit. Long term, as the new CBA pushes salaries continually higher, it may be a poison pill the Vikings regret concocting.

I assume the Seahawks $6.39mil assigned to Hutchinson gets freed up, which should put them pretty high up in terms of teams with money left on the table. As for the O-Line, the Seahawks have both Floyd Womack and last year's first round choice Chris Spencer available and in reserve, so they're not in bad shape even without Hutch.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 2:59pm

What's underhanded about it? Hutchinson gets a contract provision which, if he stays healthy and performs at his current level, will likely either entail his getting another large bonus in a couple years, as the Vikings decline to guarantee the rest of his contract, or he'll get the rest of the contract guaranteed. It is a player's responsibility to negotiate terms which benefit him and his family to the utmost, according to what the player and his family believe is of highest value, and it is a team's responsibility to negotiate what it believes is best for the team. In what way is anybody doing anything underhanded?

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 3:03pm


I wonder if Seattle can sign a contract with one of the Minnesota players to continue playing in Minnesota, thereby making them the highest paid player on the team :-P

by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 3:08pm

Minnesota has been front loading contraacts for some time now (high first year w/out signing bonus, lower later years). This gives them more cap room in the future, plus they don't get into those situations where they have to later cut a player they'd otherwise keep due to unrealistic salaries in the later years of the contract. Surprised more teams don't do it... just have to clear up a bunch of room in the first place to set it up.

by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 3:12pm

Still, those are serious bucks to be paying the interior of your O-line. I don’t think there’s enough marginal value to spend like that on guards, especially when it’s not like Minnesota doesn’t have needs on defense.

Yea but when you have a "can't even crawl out of the pocket" QB I can see why they are trying to spend thier money there.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 3:19pm

Yeah, andrew, once you get the system in place, you just use the roster bonus designation, instead of signing bonus designation, in the first year, which means the subsequent years on the contract don't consume nearly as much cap room. You have to be willing to spend low for a couple of years to get things going in that direction, but given the previous owner's aversion to spending, that really wasn't a problem. I suspect that the Vikings are pretty much done with free agency if they get Hutchinson, with perhaps the exception of some money for a safety, and they'll have used a good deal of their cap room in the form of roster bonuses, which means they'll avoid being constrained by the cap in future years as well. If Wilf gets state approval for allowing Anoka County to cover about 2/3 of the cost of a new stadium (which I sincerely hope he doesn't), he'll be in the clover by any analysis.

by MDD (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 3:28pm

Designing a clause that is specifically worse for the Seahawks than for the Vikings seems to me to violate the spirit of a transition tag, if not the letter of the rules. The Seahawks effectively have to go above and beyond what the Vikings are offering in order to retain Hutchinson. The Vikings may as well have offered him a completely guaranteed contract for what it'll mean to the Seahawks. That is why it seems underhanded to me.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 3:43pm

I guess I still don't get it it, MDD. Does the provision benefit Hutchinson? Of course; that's why he did it. Is Hutchinson doing anything which violates anything he previously agreed to? Is not the transition tag designed to allow a player to get as good a deal as he can, while giving the original team the right to match it? Hutchinson seems to have gotten himself a very good deal, and one of the reasons he has is because the Vikings were motivated to make an offer that is very attractive to Hutchinson, in a way that the Seahawks would find it unattractive to match. This seems to fit the spirit of the transition tag designation very well.

by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 4:10pm

This is far from the first time a team has put a clause into a contract that was specifically designed to keep the player's previous team from matching the offer. It goes all the way back to the start of free agency, when the Colts put similar clauses into Will Wolford's contract so that the Bills wouldn't be able to match. It's just smart negotiating. If the Seahawks don't like it, tough. They should have franchised him.

by MDD (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 4:16pm

What I'm saying is that the effect on the Vikings is that if they sign another player to a contract higher than Hutchinson's in the future his contract will become guaranteed, while the effect on the Seahawks is a guaranteed contract from day one. So the Seahawks aren't matching the Vikings offer, they have to in effect offer more, which in my opinion violates the spirit of the transition tag. That's all I'm saying.

I think the Seahawks made the decision that they weren't going to or couldn't afford to pay tackle money to Hutchinson when they applied the transition tag to him in the first place, so most likely would not match even the basic 7 years, $49m contract the Vikings offered. Certainly the poison pill makes this guaranteed to go through, if reports on this clause are true.

by ABW (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 4:20pm

Re: 22

Perhaps, and it's not like this deal was totally out of line with what the apparent market value for guards is. But what I was thinking was that Minnesota was making a mistake by not going for a FA linebacker(e.g. Will Witherspoon, David Thornton, Julian Petersen), but apparently they signed Ben Leber and I just didn't notice until 5 minutes ago.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 4:34pm

Well, I don't want to belabor this too much, but it seems to me that whole point of the transition tag is to encourage the offering team to make an offer that is very attractive to the player, while being unattractive for the original team to match. Thus, it gives the players mobility, thus increasing their pricing power, while still reserving right of first refusal to the original team, thus allowing it to retain the player, if the team decides it must absolutely do so. Seattle could match the offer after all, if they are willing to sacrifice other priorities. The fact that the Vikings and Seahawks have different priorities does not seem to me to be any evidence of underhandedness.

by MDD (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 4:34pm

It's certainly effective negotiating, and interesting to read about. I never paid much attention to NFL finances before this offseason and the CBA negotiations. It's very interesting, and a lot more fun than pondering what the M's pitching staff is going to look like this year.

What happens to the money the 'Hawks had to reserve for Hutchinson in their cap this year? I assume it gets freed up when he signs with Minnesota, am I correct?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 4:39pm

Yeah, MDD, I'm pretty sure that not matching would free up cap space for the Seahawks, which they could use to address other needs. It seems to me that defensive secondary would be the area in which they could most benefit themselves via free agency, although I think losing Jurevicious may be more significant than it would appear on the surface.

by MDD (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 4:47pm

Perhaps underhanded was a bit strong. It is an affront to the Seahawks by Hutchinson and his agent, though. I don't think you can reasonably expect the Seahawks to really consider a 7 year guaranteed contract, just as I wouldn't expect the Vikings to make a move in the future that activates that clause.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 4:58pm

Re: 34

FWIW, I tend to agree with you regarding the violation of the spirit of the transition designation. When contracts are constructed to specifically affect one team differently than it affects the other, I'd say that's inconsistent with (what I regarded as) the intent of the rules on that designation. That said, it's probably still technically legit and the Seahawks screwed up.

But, like Earl, I believe in Karma. :-)

by MDD (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 5:00pm

Oh yeah, losing Jurevicious is definately significant. I thought for sure that they were going to make a serious attempt to resign him, but perhaps he just didn't want to be in the Pacific NW anymore. We are a bit out of the way.

The secondary is definately a main concern. There's a lot of local talk about Lawyer Milloy being picked up. Having gone to Washington and living up here would fit well with the "one of us/not one of us" attitude Seattle sports fans have.

The "one of us" thing is going to make it very, Very, VERY difficult for the Seahawks to cut Alexander in the future. There have been a lot of Superstar defections in the recent past. They're going to have to either take a PR hit or keep him a year longer than they otherwise probably should to avoid the rancor from the fans up here. Hutchinson's poison pill will only magnify this.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 5:24pm

Seattle offered Jurevicius more money than Cleveland did to stay in Seattle, but he turned it down. They did make a serious attempt to sign him, it just wasn't something he was willing to do in the face of an opportunity to play at home.

I agree on two points stated above, too - it was definitely shrewd negotiation on the part of Minnesota, and I think there should be provisions to prevent teams from doing things like this in the future.

By "this" I mean exactly as was stated in #34 - creating a contract that makes it unavoidable for the matching team to pay more than the offering team. Front-loading the contract is part of the game, I understand that.

On another note, I can't imagine what Minnesota thinks it's doing by signing a guard to this much money and essentially screwing themselves out of either (a) any future high-priced signings, or (b) a lot of cap room down the line.

I don't have a source, but someone was pasting text from another article that mentioned that the Seattle FO was "livid" with Hutchinson and his agent. I don't expect Seattle to match this one, and I don't expect they'll shed a tear over it afterwards.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 5:35pm

putnamp, Minnesota is doing neither, given how front- loaded the offer to Hutchinson is ( and the bonus money is not being prorated), and how the cap will continue to rise. Nearly all the bonus money paid this year by the Vikings is 100% designated to this year's cap, and will have no effect on their cap in future years. They were able to do this because they had in excess of 30 million in cap space. Hutchinson's future cap numbers will be manageable.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 5:44pm

To be more specific, I've seen estimates that the 2007 cap number will in the area of 112 million, or about 2.5 million per player. Just estimating off the top of my head (and I could well be incorrect), Hutchinson's cap number next year would be about 5.2 million. Spending about twice the player cap ratio for what a lot of well-informed people consider to be the best guard in the league is not crazy, especially if you have your other positions under control cap-wise.

by MDD (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 6:09pm

I haven't heard the 'poison pill' reported anywhere outside PFT's rumor mill. Does anyone else have another source that will confirm the not highest paid player guarantee?

by JimmyJAG (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 6:27pm

Maybe, since Hutch was leaving no matter what, Seattle wanted to make sure whoever got him (the competition) was going to have to pay a ridiculesly high price for him. Seattle never intended to match ANY offer.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 6:53pm


If Hutchinson's cap hit next year is 2.8 million, then the language of the "highest paid player on the team" clause seems pretty relevant (and interesting) to what I said earlier, in that it will be hard to sign high-priced free agents next year and on if they don't want the rest of Hutch's contract to become guaranteed.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 7:07pm

puntnap, I think Hutchinson's cap number next year will be much higher than 2.8 million, and I think it likely that "highest paid player" is defined explicitly in the offer, in ways that we don't know yet, as far as it how affects flexibility next year. We're all trying to make assumptions about language none of us has read yet.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 7:08pm

If I were Ruskell and Reinfeldt, after wiping the egg off my face I'd look to see whose current Seahawks contracts might need to be renegotiated so that Hutch can be the highest paid player on the team. I don't know the numbers, so I don't know if that's a feasible approach or not. But that'd be one way to work around the poison pill in the offer.

Has anyone confirmed the poison pill, or is Florio still the primary source on that info?

by MDD (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 7:19pm

No confirmation as far as I've heard. I've checked Minneapolis & Seattle news sites online and have been listening to Seattle sports radio today. What I've heard is a $13m 2006 cap number with $16m of guaranteed money.

by Theo (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 7:20pm

A guard is never worth 8M, 13M or 16M.

by MDD (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 7:23pm

Maybe he is with $102m available in 2006 and $109m available in 2007.

by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 7:28pm

Meh. Worst case scenario for the Seahawks, they lose a guard.

Actually, worst case scenario for the Seahawks, they bust the bank to overpay grossly for a guard and put themselves in cap hell.

If I were Ruskell and Reinfeldt, I'd be thankful to the Vikings for sparing me the burden.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 7:35pm

Well, the numbers I've seen reported after year 1 are reasonable for the post-CBA market. But if year 1 really is $13M (and Florio is now reiterating that number), then I think/hope Hutch is a Viking.

And then R&R wipe the egg off their face and start locating some guards in FA or the draft.

by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 8:00pm

This is not underhanded. Underhanded would be a contract that pays him an extra million for each game played in the pacific time zone.

As far as poison pill, some years back (quite a few) Minnesota tried the same thing with Dale Carter of the Chiefs, back when he was a top tier cornerback. The Chiefs got all upset, complained to the league, and eventually re-signed Carter, but to a different contract.

I assume other teams have done this. This is only a poison pill in terms of that Minnesota has cap space that other teams don't have, and is trying to use it.

by MDD (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 8:08pm

I don't think I'd go so far as to say that the Seattle Front Office would have egg on their face. They've managed their cap well enough that they have room to either match the Vikings offer or not. If they don't sign him, it's because they aren't willing to pay that much for a Guard, which is the probable reason they transitioned him in the first place. The franchise number for Hutchinson in 2006 would have been right around the $7m/yr that the Vikings contract averages, so they may decide for the 2nd time this year that they don't want to pay tackle money to a guard.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 8:08pm

Before I get caught up arguing subjective terminology, in my opinion, a PST clause would just be *more* underhanded, not exclusively underhanded.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 8:32pm

Yeah, I don't necessarily think Seattle has anything to be ashamed of. Like I said before, a team's cap decisions can only be evaluated in terms of the existing roster/cap situation. Seattle is paying a lot of money on offense already, and at at some point a team has to move the pendulum back a little, or at least keep it from swinging too far in one direction.

The Vikings are now gaining some benefit from the previous owner's unwillingness to spend money, which has allowed them to consistently front-load contracts with roster bonuses, as opposed to prorated signing bonuses. Thus, the Vikings can hand out 13 million dollar bonuses today, without the contract creating large cap numbers down the road. Considering how the Vikings have had ownership with well below-median propensity to spend since the inception of the franchise in 1961, it is a little surprising that they have had as much on-the-field success as they have. It'll be interesting to see how they do with ownership which is willing to spend above the league median for the first time.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 8:50pm

"Egg on their face" may be strong, but I do see this as a calculated risk by R&R that didn't pan out. After what they pulled off last year, though, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

I think they transitioned Hutch, rather than franchise him, to find out what the market was. The Vikings set that market pretty high, obviously. I'm not sure he's worth that kind of money, simply because he's a guard. Guards may not grow on trees, but I imagine it's easier to find a functional guard than it is to find a functional LT.

But the Seattle sports media will likely have a field day with this. Either the Seahawks let their Super Bowl team "get picked apart," or they pay "crazy money" for a guard who they "should have franchised." So, I guess from that perspective, the Seattle sports media (and fan base) will be launching omelettes at their noggins.

I keep wavering on what the Seahawks will do. If it's really $13M against the cap in Year 1, though, I don't see how they can match. They've got needs at other relatively pricey positions (OLB, CB, WR, DT).

by Luke (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 8:56pm

This is an insane offer for a guard. I hope the Seahawks milk a draft pick off them. If they are dopey enough to virtually guarantee a lineman this much money, maybe they'll throw in a draft pick too.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 9:11pm


Not to get too heavy onto the Mike Sando bandwagon, but I imagine he'll have a pretty level-headed assessment when all is said and done. It's not likely the Seattle PI or Seattle Times writers will follow his lead, but it may not be that bad. Seattle has been offense-first since Holmgren got here, and they have people available at guard. Floyd Womack was supposed to be the starting RT, and was originally drafted to play Guard, but I believe he got injured during ST and Locklear did such a good job filling in, that they let him stay there. Womack will do just fine at LG, though.

Another thing to consider is that Hutchinson was saying all the right things about quietly returning to Seattle during the FA period, so it's altogether reasonable that the Seattle FO may've taken him at his word that he wasn't going to nail them with this kind of a contract. It's pretty apparent he didn't care about coming back after he spoke to Minnesota, though, or he never would've agreed to this without consulting Seattle first.

by empty13 (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 9:12pm

There are some damn good guards out there. Hutchinson, Faneca, a few others. Guys who can slide over and play LT. or RT. or C. Jeff Hartings? Obviously tackles, especially blind side protectors, are a valued commodity, and are usually taller with longer arms. C often call blocking signals at the line.

If one isnt one of the top couple of G, one shouldnt make even C money. I think these guys are all way overpaid, but a lot of it boils down to how much money a team wants to devote toward chunks of its team... QB... OL... RBs... etc...

I think G was the last every down player where one got in the HOF (Tom Mack?).

It aint nice, but a lot of guys who play G are there because they (a) couldnt make it at T; (b) couldnt make it at C; (c) are simply 330+# roadgraders who get paired with a 350# RT to mash the opposition on run plays (the ultimate zone block).

by empty13 (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 9:46pm

Anyone take Chauncey Pullpecker's temperature lately?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 11:04pm

Schefter at NFL.com is confirming the poison pill, with one refinement; the additional guarantees kick in if Hutchinson fails to be the highest-paid offensive lineman on the team, not the highest paid player. In othere words, the provision was specifically designed with Walter Jones' contract in mind.

I just wonder if the offer sheet also gives the Vikings a little wriggle room when McKinnie's contract comes up next year, so as to avoid the guaranteed money acceleration. With the way the cap is expected to go up next year, I could easily see a situation where, if McKinnie's performance curve continues on the path it was on last year, that he could command more money than Hutchinson's contract. Given the way the Vikings have front-loaded their signings this year, they should have plenty of cap space next year as well to reward McKinnie, but they will not want to guarantee another 28 million for Hutchinson, so it'd be interesting to read the exact definition of "highest paid offensive lineman".

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 11:09pm

I wonder if Seattle can declare that Walter Jones is now a tight end :p

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/13/2006 - 11:20pm

Just to be safe, they should make him their punter. After all, he likely wouldn't be much worse than was witnessed in Detroit last month.....

by Toogle (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 2:49am

The answer is simple: you let him go and admit you got beat Seattle. Then you start your 1st round C pick from last year Chris Spencer at G during the preseason and see how he does. He has the same tools to be the monster Hutchinson is and has played G before. Tough to replace an All-Pro, but with the money saved you can sign two other All Pro players in Abraham and maybe Julian Peterson. Spencer is just as good as Hutch, people just don't know it yet. Or who says Kevin Mawae can't return to Seattle for a year or two to help out?

by Polaris (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 4:09am


Actually Seattle may be able to do significantly better than that. The 'poison pill' clause if true is highly questionable under league rules, and the Vikes have to know that Seattle can match the offer if they really want to.

If the Poison Pill rumor is true which implies that Huchinson really wants to leave, then Minnesota may well trade some draft picks just to keep Seattle from matching the offer and taking it to arbitration.

by MDD (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 4:44am

Schefter's description of the clause leads me to believe that it's only for 2006, so the Vikings would be able to negotiate whatever deal they wanted to with McKinnie in 2007.

You don't go to arbitration over this if you're the 'Hawks, you say see ya to a guy that agreed to a clause specifically designed to stick it to you and put either Womack or Spencer in at left guard. You then take your $23m in cap room to the free agent market and get a corner, safety, wideout, another safety if you don't think Hamlin will be effective in 2007 and a defensive lineman.

Oh, and a new punter.

by encaitar (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 5:07am

Actually, according to the CBA, Seattle can't receive compensation for Hutchinson being that he was a transition player. If they did, both Seattle and Minnesota would be violating league rules and probably be subject to a hefty fine.

Article XX, Section 5 incorporates by reference Article XIX, Section 3(h), which says that "[t]here may be no consideration of any kind given by one Club to another Club in exchange for a Club's decision to exercise or not to exercise its Right of First Refusal." This means that the Seahawks can't ask the Vikings for anything of value not to match the offersheet.

Now this is from before the CBA extended its agreement, but highly doubtful any of this changed.

Also, it's being reported on NFL Network that the stipulation for Hutch being the highest paid lineman applies only to 2006.(obviously the Vikings were thinking about Mount McKinney next year)

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 6:39am

If this poison pill clause is specifically for the first year, then it sounds very much underhanded, to go back to the previous argument. It's designed to be impossible for Seattle to match without automatically guaranteeing the contract for its entirety. Seems sketchy to me, mostly on Hutchinson/his agent's part. Time to let him go, I think.

by masocc (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 8:51am

You know what? The more I think about this situation, the more I realize something VERY fishy is going on here...

For some reason, I don't think the Seahawks WANT Hutchinson. According to Mike Sando in the Tacoma News Tribune today, the difference between the transition tag and the franchise tag was ONLY 500 or 600 k.

That doesn't look like a gamble to me. That looks like the Seahawks WANT to get rid of Hutch. But why? The poison pill clause implies that maybe Hutch doesn't want to be in Seattle... or maybe he has an undisclosed injury/medical condition? Or knowledge of drug use/abuse? There has to be something, because 600k is NOTHING, even if the 'Hawks were afraid of not having the CBA renegotiated...

by encaitar (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 9:08am

I am also quite surprised that Seattle didn't pay another 600k to franchise him. That seems weird. Maybe they decided they just couldn't afford to pay two lineman 6mil+ a year and decided if they transition him then they have an excuse to not match. (claiming it was just too much)

Plus, if it is only for the first year, couldn't the Hawks just restructure Jones's contract so that he'll get less than Hutch this year with more money coming later?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 12:30pm

Trying to interpret a contract whose details haven't been published is not likely to be productive, not that it stops me.

I am still trying, however, to understand what is "underhanded" about negotiating terms to an agreement that one believes advances one's interests. Now, if Hutchinson had previously stated that he wouldn't agree to terms that would be specifically designed for their difficulty in having the Seahawks match, I could see the basis for the accusation. I haven't read any credible reporting, however, that Hutchinson made any such statement.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 12:55pm

Based on stuff I've read, but can't remember where (probably Sando or Florio), I think the FO didn't franchise Hutch because they wanted to avoid the repeated holdout situations they had with Big Walt. Also, the new CBA drives up the cost of using the franchise tag more than twice on a single player. Bottom line, they wanted to have closure this year on a long term contract, but I don't think they anticipated a poison pill quite like what the Vikings came up with.

I do think it was underhanded on the part of Hutch and his agent to either come up with, or agree to, this type of clause and thereby make it virtually impossible for Seattle to match. Nothing wrong with the money, and I'm all for these guys negotating whatever they can, but this clause seems like Hutch giving Seattle the middle finger. He knew when he signed the offer sheet that Seattle would have to restructure Big Walt's contract or just not match the offer. The fans (and probably the FO) were left with the distinct impression as FA began that Hutch wanted to remain a Seahawk; the fact that he would agree to this type of poison pill suggests he was simply looking to drive his price up by saying that.

From the Vikings' perspective, it's just smart negotiating. And it's smart of Hutch to drive his price up on the open market. I'll be surprised if Hutch isn't wearing purple and gold next year. But I don't know if he'll have quite the pedestal in the Twin Cities that he enjoyed in Seattle.

As for replacements, Chris Spencer was brought in specifically to take over for Tobeck at C, so I doubt they'll slide him over to G. Womack can fill in just fine, but now they need to find a G in the draft or FA. Oh well, at least they'll have plenty of cap space to find one, and still be able to sign some talented players on D.

by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 1:09pm

This contract will indeed carry a $13 million cap number for 2006. The Vikings are hoping that will persuade Seattle to let him go.

by andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 1:17pm

Regardless, I'm sure just about every offensive guard (and their agents) in the league is thanking Hutch for this...

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 1:26pm

Again, what is underhanded about negotiating a contract that one believes advances one's interests?

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 1:49pm

Will, "underhanded" may be the wrong adjective.

Hutch got a monster contract and just set a new market for his position, and the Vikings (I think) are about to get one heck of a guard. Good on them.

No rules were broken in the process, but I don't think anyone in Seattle expected Hutch to agree to an offer which would essentially preclude the Seahawks from matching. Not when (I'm reasonably sure) the FO simply wanted to find out the latest market value for a guard of his caliber, and then pay it.

But I think it shows a lack of good faith by Hutch and his agent, because he was going to get paid well in Seattle.

by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 2:42pm

the Vikings (I think) are about to get one heck of a guard. Good on them

All they need now is one heck of a free safety, one heck of a punter, and one heck of a long snapper, and they're Super Bowl bound.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 2:50pm

First, let it be reiterated that none of us have the exact details of the contract. Next, I would be very surprised if the offer completely lets the Vikings off the hook in regards to guarantees if McKinnie signs a larger contract next year. I suspect that the deal has been structured to either get Hutchinson substantially more of the 49 million guaranteed within a couple years, or to get another crack at free agency, and another large bonus, if he maintains his health and performance. In other words, it was not done just to hammer Seattle, but rather to substantially advance Hutchison's financial interests, relative to what he would have gotten with a simple offer sheet without guaranteed money kickers.

Hutchinson wanted a deal that would either give him more guarantees or another crack at a large bonus fairly soon. The Vikings were only going to offer something like that if they could structure it in such a way as to make it very unlikely that Seattle would match, and absent such competitive pressure, Seattle was unlikley to give Hutchinson the guarantees, or crack at another bonus within a couple years. In order for Hutchinson to get what he wanted, he likely had to structure it in this way. None of this constitutes bad faith.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 3:02pm


I don't think it's that steeped in intrigue. From a Seattle PI article (linked in name):

Q: Wouldn't naming Hutchinson the franchise player have avoided all of this?

A: Yes, it would have, but instead of facing the decision whether to match an unprecedented offer to a guard the Seahawks would be facing another set of issues.

Naming Hutchinson the franchise player would have cost $600,000 more, but the worry was it would have injected molasses into negotiations for a long-term deal. Hutchinson wouldn't have been able to gauge his value on the open market, leaving no way to remedy the gap between what Hutchinson was asking and what the Seahawks were offering. The history with Walter Jones instilled fear of a training-camp holdout only to face the possibility of the same process again next season when Seattle would have had to pay Hutchinson $8.4 million to make him a franchise player.

Choosing to name Hutchinson the transition player instead of the franchise player has been characterized as a mistake, but more accurately, it was a risk calculated on the value the Seahawks pegged for Hutchinson based on his position.

So much for the Seattle media ringing up the Seahawks front office, too. Maybe they're still in the grace period after their first Super Bowl appearance :)

Will Allen:

If we really want to argue whether or not it was "underhanded", then I guess here goes:

Underhanded - Marked by or done in a deceptive, secret, or sly manner; dishonest and sneaky.

Hutchinson indicated that he wanted to stay with Seattle. He was given an opportunity to test his market value so that the two sides could work out a good market value. There was no doubt a measure of faith that he would use this opportunity to negotiate a market value. What he came back with was not a test of market value, but a contract designed to prevent him from coming back.

Was it stated that he wouldn't? You don't know, I don't know, the media doesn't know. But the implication has been all along that everythign was okay with Hutchinson and Seattle. But he turned around and signed a contract that Seattle couldn't reasonably match.

His deal does NOT establish market value for Seattle. It establishes a market value for Minnesota, while making it more difficult for Seattle to keep him. The very spirit of this deal says to Seattle "If you want to keep me, you'll have to do better than Minnesota".

So if this doesn't fit your definition of underhanded, then fine, semantics be damned. It's still a pretty disrespectful (there's that word, *sigh*) move on his part to all of the people who he led to believe he would be returning to next year.

by MDD (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 3:04pm

If Seattle used the Transition tag on Hutchinson to allow him to accurately gauge what his services are worth on the open market, thereby setting his contract at market value, getting the long term deal done now and avoiding another Walter Jones annual holdout extravaganza, then the inclusion of a clause that has no practical effect on the Vikings goes completely against the spirit of the transition tag.

The Seattle PI has an interpretation that the clause is only at the time of the signing. The Vikings could go ahead and sign another offensive lineman to an even bigger contract next week and not be effected if that were the case.

At any rate, I'm sure the Seahawks can get clarification from the league on what clauses they would be required to match before the have to make the decision to match or not. NFL network also reported the Seahawks have 10 days to make their decision, which is different from the 7 I've heard everywhere else.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 3:05pm

Next, I would be very surprised if the offer completely lets the Vikings off the hook in regards to guarantees if McKinnie signs a larger contract next year. I suspect that the deal has been structured to either get Hutchinson substantially more of the 49 million guaranteed within a couple years, or to get another crack at free agency, and another large bonus, if he maintains his health and performance. In other words, it was not done just to hammer Seattle, but rather to substantially advance Hutchison’s financial interests, relative to what he would have gotten with a simple offer sheet without guaranteed money kickers.

So basically, we're wrong, because you suspect we're wrong? Do you have any links to substantiate this? I'm sorry, but I don't think refuting verified media reports with debatable conjectures is really the foundation for a solid argument. I understand and respect that you disagree, but come on, everything you said in your post was entirely based on supposition and gut feelings.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 3:09pm

Will, I'm probably looking at this as a fan more than I am as a business person. Thus the inflammatory language.

It's true no one but the Vikings, Seahawks, and Team Hutchinson know the precise terms of the contract, so we're tilting at windmills here. Still, it's all we've got right now, so what the heck, right?

As a fan, I expected Hutch to go out, find a big money contract, and then give Seattle a chance to match. I expected some kind of poison pill, because that's how the process works. But I didn't expect such an onerous pill, and I applaud the Vikings for their creativity.

The nature of the poison pill leaves me feeling that Hutch wanted out of Seattle, which is disappointing after the run they had last year. Hence the characterizations.

Truth be told, though, if someone offered me that kind of money to change teams (oh, to dream), I'd probably ask for a pen too.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 3:10pm

To follow on, and this is just speculation on my part, I could easily envision the following scenario:

Hutchinson and Condon (agent) arrive in Minneapolis on Saturday. Everybody starts getting acquainted, and some outline as to what is desired by Hutchinson gets established. Hutchinson goes off to dinner with members of the coaching staff (he and Childress were spotted dining in a downtown Minneapolis steakhouse Saturday night), while Condon stays behind with the Vikings VP for capology, Brezenski.

Brezenski says that he is willing to make a very aggressive offer, meeting much of what Hutchinson desires, in terms of the chance for more guaranteed money, or another crack at testing the market within a couple years, but the offer is only on the table for a couple hours, and only if Condon does not contact the Seahawks. Condon calls Hutchinson, fills him in, and everybody gets back together, the offer sheet is printed out, and Hutchinson signs it.

Again, this is just speculation on my part, but in such a scenario, I fail to see how anybody has operated in bad faith. If Hutchinson/Condon contact Seattle, and Brezenski follows through on what he said he would do, as far as pulling the offer off the table, Hutchinson has lost his leverage. In other words, the Vikings were not going to establish the market that Hutchinson was seeking, unless Hutchinson was willing to sign an offer sheet that Seattle was very unlikely to match. None of this constitutes behaving in bad faith.

by MDD (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 3:25pm

So all we have left is speculation, then? I speculate Hutchinson will get tons of boos if he's a Viking when they play at Seattle this year.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 3:28pm

putnamp, I'm not the one accusing somebody of underhanded behavior. You are. Thus, it is incumbent on you to establish this, if your character attack is to be viewed credibly. Thus, you would need to know the precise terms of the contract. You don't.

My speculation is based upon the notion that Hutchinson is pursuing what he perceives to be in his best interests, and it would be in his best interests to have provisions in the contract which could potentially increase his guarantees, or get him another crack at the market, no matter what team he plays for.

First, we had reports that the offer sheet had a provision based upon Huthchinson be the highest paid player, now it has been fairly well established that it addresssed only offensive linemen, and it has not been made explicit that there are no provisions which might affect guarantees with the Vikings in future years, although depending on how one reads the Schefter report, it could be interpreted that the Vikings are completely off the hook in regards to additional guarantees. Condon has never struck me as an agent who is insufficiently aggressive, so this would surprise me, although it is certainly possible.

Before attacking someone's character, however, by accusing them of underhanded or bad faith behavior, maybe, just maybe, one should have detailed, largely uncontested, proof of what the behavior entailed. Then again, maybe I'm nuts, and it should be commonplace to call someone underhanded, despite a deficit of established facts.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 4:00pm

Don't be naive. First and foremost here, I'm a fan of a sports team. I'm not St. Peter, I'm not a judge, I'm not an attorney. I am not a member of the Seahawks or Vikings organizations or FOs, and I am not a sports agent. I have nothing vested in this beyond who I see lining up for either team on Sundays, and I have no ethical obligations to the people involved.

So I will take my opinion, I will enjoy it, and if more information comes out after the 7-10 day period that changes my mind, I will throw it out for a new one. This is often referred to as being a sports fan. It's fun, and you should consider that those who have characterized this deal as underhanded are perhaps just getting caught up in the fun and drama of it - as opposed to simply dealing with a major personal inadequacy that forces them to validate themselves through the villification of celebrities.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 4:18pm

Well, if trying to be reluctant to attack someone's character prior to having the facts is naive, I gladly plead guilty being naive.

by JRM (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 5:10pm

But I think it shows a lack of good faith by Hutch and his agent, because he was going to get paid well in Seattle.

But he's getting paid better in Minnesota.

I strongly disagree with the idea that Hutchinson and his agent did anything wrong. Everyone played by the rules. Seattle could have avoided this by offering Hutchinson a better contract.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 6:51pm

Well, to paraphrase putnamp, I'm a fan so I have no obligation to be rational about this.

I suspect Hutch left Seattle with a "handshake deal" that Seattle would plan to match anything he could find on the open market. But he signed an offer that he had to know would prevent Seattle from matching.

Any team would have come up with a poison pill. The Vikings were uniquely suited to come up with the pill they're using, because they had the cap room to use Big Walt's contract against Seattle.

As a fan who's cheered for Hutch since his pro career began, I'm disappointed he chose to accept an offer which effectively precludes him from remaining a Seahawk. It doesn't bother me that he signed a high-dollar offer; it's that he signed an offer that he knew Seattle would have difficulty matching. He was going to get paid either way.

by JRM (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 7:16pm

I suspect Hutch left Seattle with a “handshake deal� that Seattle would plan to match anything he could find on the open market.

But wouldn't that- negotiating with one team for no other reason than to have Seattle match the offer- have showed a lack of good faith on Hutchinson's part?

I know that if I were running the Vikings, I wouldn't be interested in making offers for Hutchinson to shop around. I'd be interested in getting a deal done.

I'm a Patriots fan, and after the 1997 season they lost Curtis Martin the the Jets in a similar fashion- the Jets made a creative offer that wasn't in New England's best interests to match. I was disappointed that we lost Martin, disappointed that the team was outmanuvered, and pointed out that it would have never happened had the Pats made Martin a reasonable offer to begin with.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 7:46pm

JRM, stop trying to use logic with me. I need my hate! :-)

Seriously, though, as I mentioned earlier, I do think the Seahawks FO miscalculated when they took their calculated risk. No telling for sure how intense the salary negotiations were prior to FA, perhaps the Seahawks should have taken those negotiations more seriously. Or Hutch just didn't want to play in Seattle anymore. It's all speculative at this point. And it's all academic until we hear for sure that the Seahawks will or will not match.

Based on the offer on the table, I hope they don't match, learn the hard lesson regarding use of the tags as a negotiating tool, and then find some help for the D.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 03/14/2006 - 8:37pm

What lends further credence to the notion that there is language that could force the Vikings to increase guarantees in the future is the fact that the Vikings didn't add an eighth year at, say, 50 million dollars, or, heck, 200 million dollars, to absolutely remove any possible chance that the Seahawks could match, while exposing themselves to zero additonal risk.

by masocc (not verified) :: Wed, 03/15/2006 - 4:06pm

Can't you Franchise a player and then the NEXT year Transition tag him? Wouldn't this have made more sense if your goal is to get another ring? Unless, as I said... something is funky here.

A big chunk of this offer is guaranteed, right? So I won't look like a total arse if I laugh when Hutch's leg falls off, or something?

by Lou (not verified) :: Thu, 03/16/2006 - 2:45am

Does anyone think the league will ok this deal? think about it, its armageddon for the salary cap when every other player out there wants this same thing in there deal! Any thoughts?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 03/16/2006 - 1:59pm

It doesn't hurt the salary cap, it just forces teams to decide who they wish to pay. If Seattle wants to completely guarantee a seven year, 49 million dollar, deal for a guard, it just means that they will have less flexibility with other players in future years. However, this case does show how the transition tag can be of limited value in keeping a player with a club, if another team really wants him.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/17/2006 - 12:37pm

And now I'm hearing word that the 'Hawks are planning to match the contract, while excluding the part about guaranteed salary. They'll let that go to arbitration. That info comes from PFT, so it could be bogus information.

Then again, maybe not, I heard Adam Schefter say the same thing, but without the same level of detail. He also indicated that they'll probably match, challenge the guarantee, and even if they lose they're OK with the monster contract.

I don't know how I feel about this--I'm not crazy about it, I know that. I have faith in the Seahawks FO, but this is crazy money for the position. Especially when you still need some upgrades on the other side of the ball.

I'd be happy to have Hutch continue to line up for the 'Hawks, but I'd be wondering how we might have made the rest of the team better with those cap dollars. After Year 1, it's 6 yrs/$36M, which probably will end up being market value for a guard as prices go up. But Year 1 at $13M would severely limit 'Hawks FA options, I would think.

by Lou (not verified) :: Sat, 03/18/2006 - 6:01am

See.....I thought the league would have a problem with the "poison pill" It goes against the CBA. I think the league and the NFLPA worked something out about a clause like this not to long ago. This should be interesting to see what happens!

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 03/18/2006 - 11:33am

As reported on Foxsports, the ruling you're thinking of was prompted by the Colts' signing of Will Wolford when he was the Bills' transition player. The poison pill employed by the Colts was a guarantee that he would be the team's highest paid offensive player. The arbitrator ruled that it was legit, but the league and NFLPA were led to modify the CBA to outlaw clauses in offer sheets to transition players which would require the owning team to pay more than the offering team. The clause in Hutchinson's contract does not violate that stipulation: the Hawks would not be required to pay him more money, only to guarantee more of that money.

My guess is that, as in the Wolford case, the arbitrator will rule the clause legit and the league and union will then come to an agreement banning such clauses in future.

by andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 12:54am

I'm sure everyone has been following the updates... but basically the Seahawks adjusted Jones' deal to bring him below Hutchinson's, but the NFLPA argued that it had to be higher from the moment the offer was signed... and the arbiter agreed. So the hawks must let him go or guarantee 49 million.