Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 May 2010

Patrick Willis Signs Five-Year Extension

Patrick Willis has got a new deal from the 49ers. His extension is for five years and $50 million, with an impressive $29 million in guaranteed money.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 04 May 2010

26 comments, Last at 07 May 2010, 6:06pm by Jerry


by BigDerf :: Tue, 05/04/2010 - 4:20pm

I'm assuming that 29 mil guaranteed is so high cause of the 30% rule? aka mostly bonus?

by KarlFA :: Tue, 05/04/2010 - 4:22pm

Dansby got $22 million, was under no such restriction, and simply isn't as good a player as is Willis (and Willis is younger...).

Karl, Miami

by jimbohead :: Tue, 05/04/2010 - 5:42pm

Did we get an under-the-cap article on linebackers? I don't remember...

by KarlFA :: Tue, 05/04/2010 - 4:21pm

Am I the only one who thinks this is a terrible extension for Willis? He's arguably already better than Karlos Dansby. Wait, check that - he's better than Dansby. And seemingly the numbers reflect that (5 years/$50mm/$29 guaranteed versus 5yrs/$43mm/$22mm guranteed).

Except that Dansby got a free agent contract starting this year at the age of 28. Patrick Willis is 25 years old, and his new contract will only kick in 2 years from now. Considering the considerable inflation we see in the NFL on an annual basis of contracts for top flight players, something tells me those numbers won't look so good three years down the road.

Ask Reggie Wayne about it.

Karl, Miami

by Dean :: Tue, 05/04/2010 - 4:30pm


But if he gets injured tomorrow and never plays again, he still pockets $29 million. He might get more if he were to wait, but he might not get any.

This is the type of move Philly makes all the time. Except that in this case it's a linebacker.

by Independent George :: Tue, 05/04/2010 - 5:59pm

Exactly. Anecdotally, LBs seem to get injured more often than any other position except RBs (though I suppose if we were to crunch numbers, that might just be because there are 3-4 in the starting lineup).

by Formersd (not verified) :: Tue, 05/04/2010 - 7:29pm

He pockets $29mm and is set for life. I think that's a good move.

by BucNasty :: Wed, 05/05/2010 - 12:07pm

That's the whole point of locking a player up with a long term deal.

by KarlFA :: Thu, 05/06/2010 - 9:21am

The difference being that Patrick Willis is already considered the best player at his position. This guy is on a Hall of Fame track. When the Eagles locked up their young players - lito sheppard, sheldon brown, brent celek, shawn andrews - they were promising young guys (who in turn never became top-5 producers at their position, although they were all very good - book is still out on Celek).

Willis' agents should've pushed for an even bigger signing bonus (considering the restrictions of the 30% rule).

This simply is not a good contract, and the whole "securing his family's future" thing is bullsh--. He should be getting paid what he's worth, right now. He has already proven himself.

Want some perspective? Rolando McClain will probably get $20 million guaranteed in his rookie contract. And all of that without even have to mentioning the deal Jahri Evans just signed. Oh wait, nevermind...

Karl, Miami

by saj (not verified) :: Tue, 05/04/2010 - 4:40pm

What a linebacker this dude is. He is a treat to watch.ar

by tuluse :: Tue, 05/04/2010 - 4:43pm

Patrick Willis is the most fun to watch MLB since a younger Urlacher. He just seems unreal on the field.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 05/04/2010 - 5:14pm

And he's worth every single penny.

by David :: Wed, 05/05/2010 - 8:48am

Agreed with all the positive comments above - as a 49ers fan, recently reminded of their inability to dig deep for Julian Peterson, I'm very happy with this move

by Yaguar :: Wed, 05/05/2010 - 9:09am

I'm with those who think this deal will look excellent for the Niners in a couple of years.

All FA contracts look really inflated to start. Some of them, like Adam Archuleta's, are as ridiculous as they sound. Some of them, like Dwight Freeney's, look like too much at the time, but slowly become better and better deals.

This is obviously going to be in the latter camp. Willis's contract makes him just barely the best-paid MLB in the league. That's great value. In a few years, other contracts will have surpassed his. Other teams will be shelling out monster dough for good MLBs - some of them possibly in Willis's draft class, like Beason or Harris - and we'll be wondering how it is that the best MLB in the league is being kept so cheaply.

by KarlFA :: Thu, 05/06/2010 - 9:22am

My sentiments exactly.

Karl, Miami

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 05/05/2010 - 11:09am

...and of course, the big subtext of this extension is the stadium vote coming up in a month. The future of the 49ers franchise is more dependent on a new stadium than on any of its players. If they get it, they'll return to somewhere in the middle of the league's stadium revenue, and if they don't, they'll remain one of the poorest teams, weak and picked on whenever the NFL wants to, say, make an example of someone about player tampering.

Locking up our best and most popular player just before the vote -- it's good reassurance to everyone that we're a serious team worthy of trust -- and a new stadium.

by KarlFA :: Thu, 05/06/2010 - 9:29am

Sadly enough, you're right. This kind of signing generates positive press that will in turn be used in a stadium vote.

Except a stadium is (or should be, at least) a 30 to 50 year capital investment which will not only cost upwards of a billion dollars but will also have significant impact on not only the community where the stadium is being built but also the community where the old stadium is being demolished. Those are much more important factors in deciding on funding for a stadium. One player's signing shouldn't be part of the consideration.

Oh yea, that and the fact that cities/states gain next to nothing (economically) by having a stadium/sports team. Other than the tax revenue from player and coach salaries.

I haven't been following the SF stadium issue too closely. Is the vote just on whether or not to approve a stadium in Santa Clara(?) or is it also a vote on public funding?

Karl, Miami

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 05/06/2010 - 11:24am

The stadium is estimated to cost $937 million; $114 would come from public bonds, the rest from the 49ers, with the 49ers responsible for any cost overruns or deficit operations.

One odd thing is that it'll be built on the parking lot of Great America, the bay area's biggest amusement park. Watch a game, stroll across the street, ride the rollercoasters. Great America doesn't think it'll work that way, though -- they're the primary funding source for the "No" vote.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 05/06/2010 - 3:32pm

What's the total payroll of an NFL franchise? North of $120m, right? How long can it really take before income taxes on that sort of money recoup a couple hundred million dollar initial outlay, not to mention sales taxes from player expenditure and so on. Then factor in the additional tourist revenue from a potential Superbowl or two . . . It's not such a horrible proposition, long-term.

by tuluse :: Fri, 05/07/2010 - 2:42am

Very few cities have income taxes.

by jimbohead :: Fri, 05/07/2010 - 10:26am

They do, however, have local sales taxes. For instance, on ticket sales. Which, at least partially, fund players salaries. Or on the potential sales bonanza of a Santa Clara Superbowl (apparently, Goodell implicitly promised an SF superbowl if the stadium got built. We'll see if it actually happens).

The last sports deal that went down in that area was PacBell Park (for the Giants), and my impression just walking through is that the project did a fair amount of good for the area. It's an overstatement to say that sports parks are always a bad deal for the city. It just depends on the deal, on the park, and on what else is attached to the project in terms of commercial and residential development.

by Jerry :: Fri, 05/07/2010 - 6:06pm

Wasn't PacBell privately funded after several failed attempts to get taxpayers to build a new ballpark?

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 05/07/2010 - 12:57pm

Many states do though, right? I've no idea whether the state legislature is involved with this particular project, but I'm pretty sure I'm right in saying that Minnesota is with the Vikings stadium negotiations, for example.

by tuluse :: Fri, 05/07/2010 - 2:34pm

Yeah, I believe California has one of the higher state income taxes. I don't know if they are willing to help with funding though.

I'm pretty sure Illinois didn't help the Bears with their renovation.

by jimbohead :: Fri, 05/07/2010 - 3:30pm

as I understand it, the state of CA is not involved. Nor should they be. They have incredible cash flow issues, and a public bond from them would be more expensive than just going to the bank.