(March 13, 2006) -- Start fitting Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson for a Minnesota Vikings.
The $50 million offer sheet that Hutchinson signed Sunday with the Vikings includes a provision dictating that he be the highest paid offensive lineman on his team this season -- or the entire $50 million contract becomes fully guaranteed, according to someone who has seen the offer sheet. Well, Seattle offensive tackle Walter Jones averages $7.5 million per year, while Hutchinson's contract pays him an average of $7 million per year.
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| The Vikings made Steve Hutchinson an offer that will be tough for the Hawks to match. || |
So if Seattle matched Hutchinson's offer sheet, it not only would have to figure out how to squeeze in this year's $13-million-plus salary-cap figure, but it also would have to guarantee a whopping $50 million to Hutchinson, making it the richest cash contract in NFL history by a cool $15 million.
As it is, Hutchinson will be the fourth highest paid offensive linemen in football, behind only Jones, Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden.
The deal, devised by Hutchinson's agent Tom Condon, makes it exceedingly difficult for the Seahawks to match. One person involved in the composition of the offer sheet predicted the Seahawks cannot match it; the ramifications would be way too severe.
Seattle is said to be miffed not at the contract, but at Hutchinson's actions. As an act of good faith, the Seahawks opted to slap Hutchinson with the "transition" tag instead of the "franchise" tag, enabling the guard to solicit a deal that would be the best gauge of his market value. Seattle opted against the franchise tag only because it did not want to disenfranchise Hutchinson the way so many players slapped with the franchise tags are.
In turn, Hutchinson's agent devised one of the most innovative contracts ever created, a monumental deal that nobody in Seattle saw coming. Now, the overwhelming chances are, Hutchinson is gone.
Seattle does have one other option, but it is highly risky. It can match the offer sheet and appeal the terms of the offer sheet to the NFL's Management Council. A Special Master would hear the appeal and if it ruled against the Seahawks, Seattle would be obligated to pay Hutchinson $50 million.
It's probably a gamble the Seahawks cannot afford to take.
HAIL TO THE REDSKINS
No team is more aggressive, no team is more rash, no team is more intriguing than the Washington Redskins, who were more active in free agency the past three days than some teams have been the past three years.
On Monday afternoon, the Redskins reached agreement with their final big-name free agent of this offseason, defensive end Andre Carter, whom the Broncos and Raiders coveted. Washington agreed to a six-year, $30 million deal that includes a $9 million signing bonus.
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| With a Super Bowl ring, free agent WR Antwaan Randle El was even more attractive to the 'Skins. || |
On Monday morning, the Redskins signed safety Adam Archuleta
. On Sunday, the Redskins signed wide receiver Antwaan Randle El
. On Saturday, they traded for wide receiver Brandon Lloyd
. In between all their spending madness, the Redskins also added tight end Christian Fauria.
Much of the NFL is wondering how the Redskins are doing it. The simple answer is with Daniel Snyder's cash. The Redskins are prorating the huge signing bonuses they're handing out over the life of the contract, usually seven years, softening the blow the team has to take this season.
It can give Randle El $11.5 million of bonuses, as it did, and soften the blow by pro-rating it over seven years. It can give Carter a $9 million bonus and pro-rate it over six years. It's like a credit card -- putting off paying the full bill now, but knowing it's going to come due later.
But for now, Snyder's money and the big bonuses enable Washington to be the New York Yankees of the NFL, buying whatever it wants to help the Redskins to return to the Super Bowl.
At this point, they clearly are one of the NFC favorites.
TIME FOR T.O.
Headlines over the weekend were dedicated to Edgerrin James, LeCharles Bentley, Randle El and Hutchinson. But now get ready for wide receiver Terrell Owens to start making them again.
The Eagles must make a decision on Owens by Tuesday, before he is due a $5 million roster bonus. There's as much chance of the Eagles paying that as there is of Donovan McNabb taking a spring break trip with Owens. Thus, the Eagles must either trade or release Owens by Tuesday.
A team official said there have been "some sniffs." But if no team has traded for Owens by now, it's unlikely they will do it by Tuesday. Look for Owens to be released and one of the biggest stories of the offseason to kick off.
NFL executives believe Dallas, Kansas City and Denver are the three most likely landing spots.
When Denver entered the bidding for running back Jamal Lewis, arranging for him to visit on Monday, the Ravens stepped up their efforts to re-sign their back.
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| The Ravens quickly re-signed Jamal Lewis before he was able to find another suitor. || |
Before Lewis could arrive in Denver, he had reached agreement with Baltimore on a three-year contract
worth in the vicinity of $25 million. However, the contract includes a massive roster bonus due on March 1 of next year, meaning Lewis' deal is much closer to a one-year deal worth $6 million this season.
Now, with Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James, Ahman Green, Chester Taylor, Mike Anderson and Lewis off the market, the free agent running back field has dried up. Any team that still needs one will have to find one in the draft.
Miami has been busy entertaining free-agent visitors, but the most curious one it has had through its building so far has been Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt.
Something appears amiss with Dolphins kicker Olindo Mare, but those close to Mare insisted the kicker is not contemplating retirement, as one NFL executive speculated.
But the Dolphins didn't fly Vanderjagt to Miami just so he could enjoy South Beach. There was no madness to their method.