Chicago Sun-Times

Following the money trail to the 14th overall pick

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Here’s hoping the Bears don’t run into the same issues with the 14th pick in the draft as the New York Jets encountered with cornerback Darrelle Revis last summer.

New York traded up to grab the Pittsburgh product after he had a great spring in preparing for the draft. The Jets were so enamored with him they demanded he sign a six-year contract. The problem was players on both sides of him were doing five-year deals. New York didn’t waver and both sides dug in.

You’re not going to find an agent out there that wants his client locked up in a six-year deal as a rookie. Not unless the money is insane. Remember, it was a hangup with defensive tackle Tommie Harris in 2004. Harris and his first agent—Kennard McGuire—verbally committed to doing a six-year contract when the Bears selected him 14th. Harris determined that was the last thing he wanted and cited it, at least in part, for parting ways with McGuire and joining up with Eugene Parker. After his rookie season began, he dumped Parker for Drew Rosenhaus.

There were three players in the first round last year who signed six-year deals: No. 1 JaMarcus Russell, No. 2 Calvin Johnson and No. 5 Levi Brown. Period. Only players in the top 16 picks can sign six-year deals. It’s a moot point after that. Miami’s Jake Long has already agreed to a five-year contract as the No. 1 pick of this draft.

Slotting is the issue when it comes to contracts. The teams and the agents look at what players received with the corresponding pick the year before and work off that. Then, they work off the deals of players drafted near them this year. The second pick of this draft will get as close as he can to the deal Long received when he gets down to business with St. Louis.

Thing is, the Bears want nothing to do with this Revis contract. Not a thing. Only Russell had a longer holdout as Revis didn’t report to Jets camp until mid-August.

The deal is complicated. It is a six-year contract but voids to four based on play-time incentives. Revis triggered the clause to reduce it to a four-year deal in the first half of his rookie season. So it’s a $16 million, four-year contract right now. That $16 million is more than the maximum value of the five-year deal Adam Carriker signed in St. Louis with the 13th pick ($14.3 million).

The Jets can buy back the fifth and sixth seasons of the deal. It will cost them $5 million to bring him back in 2011 and $9 million, $11 million or $15 million for 2012 depending on a complex points system. That makes the max value of the total deal $36 million over six seasons. The Jets also agreed to forfeit the right to place the franchise tag on him in the voidable years. If Revis is a star, it’s not bad. The Jets can pay him star money in the final two years of the deal or return to the negotiating table for a second contract. But if he’s a good player who doesn’t warrant elite money, they’re in a pinch. They have to overpay him or let him become a free agent a year before the remainder of the 2007 draft class.

General manager Jerry Angelo doesn’t want anything to do with buy backs. For a point of reference, Michael Haynes, also a No. 14 pick, signed a six-year deal in 2003. Harris signed a five-year contract in 2004. Cedric Benson (No. 4 overall) did a five-year deal in 2005. That was the last time the Bears selected in the top half of the first round. The Bears were on the phone with Benson’s agent Parker when they were on the clock in ’05. The club tried to lock Parker into general parameters for a contract with the possibility that they would pass on his client if they didn’t reach an agreement in a matter of minutes. Parker balked and the Bears took Benson any way.

The player the Bears draft at No. 14 Saturday is expected to get a straight five-year contract.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 25, 2008 12:54 PM.

Smaller rosters will impact action come training camp was the previous entry in this blog.

Take 3: Bears indeed work out WR Thomas is the next entry in this blog.

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