I’ve been waiting to write about this until I saw the contract details, because really that’s all that hinges on my opinion of this extension.
Duane Brown has been a tremendous left tackle in the NFL for a lot of years. He came into the league in 2008 with the Houston Texans, was a Pro Bowler for them from 2012-2014, and was first team All Pro in 2012 as well. The Seahawks traded away a king’s ransom to bring him in halfway through 2017, and in spite of an ankle injury that set him back, he still somehow became a Pro Bowler at the age of 32. He was heading into the final year of his deal in 2018, until the Seahawks decided to press their luck and see if we can squeeze a few more years out of him.
There’s a tremendous amount of risk when you sign a guy who will be 33 years old at the end of this month to a multi-year extension. Now, obviously, some players are special, and they can play at a really high level well into their 30’s. And, while it’s not quarterback or kicker or punter, left tackle is a position where you can see a lot of longevity. As long as you avoid the dreaded knee injuries, it feels like guys can play forever (then, once that knee buckles the wrong way, it’s curtains almost right away, regardless of how many surgeries you endure).
The point is, I feel a lot better extending someone like Duane Brown than I do someone like Earl Thomas (particularly after seeing what happened to Kam and Avril last year).
But, still, there needs to be some protection for the team. The last thing the Seahawks need is another albatross; they don’t need another guy making too much money who can’t stay on the field. Fortunately, it looks like this deal accomplishes this.
Look, there’s risk that comes with every single free agent contract. All it takes is one bad hit or one wrong step and your career could be over (or, at least, seriously shortened). So, there was never going to be a way to do this extension completely risk-free.
For instance, obviously Brown was going to get his money in 2018. On top of that, there’s an $8 million signing bonus that – for cap purposes – gets spread out over the entire four years he’s under contract to be with the Seahawks. According to Over The Cap, part of his 2019 salary is guaranteed for injury (less than $2 million), so if he goes out and blows his ACL this year, we’re semi-protected going forward. His 2019 salary is fully guaranteed on the 5th day of the league year (which, I think starts in March?), which also makes sense, because you’d figure AT THE VERY LEAST he’ll be good for this year and next, so long as he remains healthy.
Brown’s 2018 cap number is a little over $8 million; his 2019 cap number is $10.5 million; both very reasonable figures for a top-flight left tackle in this league. Maybe even a bargain if he continues to play at a high level! Which I don’t think is out of the question at all. Brown’s status with the Seahawks gets a little more dicey after 2019, though.
He’s due a $1 million roster bonus on the 5th day of the league year in 2020. He’s also got built-in bonuses for games played from 2019-2021. His cap number for 2020 jumps up to $12.5 million which, again, is a bargain if he’s still playing at a high level. But, if he slips, or the team wants to go in another direction, we can cut him prior to the 2020 league year and only have $4 million in dead money. His cap number for the final year of the deal jumps again, to $13 million, with only $2 million in dead money at that time.
I’d say it’s a 99.99% guarantee that Brown isn’t here in 2021. I’d say it’s probably 75% guarantee that he isn’t here in 2020 either. My hunch is he’ll play through 2019 and that’ll be that.
Overall, it’s a fine deal for all involved. The player is essentially betting on himself – which he’s smart to do – and it’s not SO prohibitive from a money perspective to consider maybe keeping him for the duration (again, assuming he out-plays his deal and keeps locking down that left side). It’s not like those crazy balloon deals you see that erroneously inflate the overall total of a contract just to make the agent look better. Every single team in the league would pay $13 million for a Pro Bowl left tackle, so if he’s still at that level in 2020, it’s not impossible for him to stick around through 2021. He’d be 36 years old at the time, but guys have played in this league at that age. It’s rare; they’re special human beings, but it still happens.
I agree with most everyone in the Seahawks orbit (media, fans, players), that it’s just nice to see the team really commit and devote some serious money to improving this offensive line. Yes, they’ve devoted tons of draft picks to the problem, but rarely have they ponied up the cash. With Brown and Britt in the fold, this line is shaping up to be – dare I say it – halfway decent?!