When Greg Olsen became the first person selected in the first round of this year’s NFL draft to sign, I reported that it was full of bonuses, incentives, and escalators [Greg Olsen Is The First First To Sign]. The escalators had been the breaking point in the Brady Quinn negotiations until yesterday, when Quinn finally signed with the Cleveland Browns.  It is a 5-year, $20.2 million contract, with $7.75 million guaranteed, and the possibility of a total payout of $30 million if the escalators are reached [Contract could be worth up to $30 million with incentives]. Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post that pretty much gives all the background information necessary to understand what escalators entail [The Importance of Escalators]. Some things to think about:

  1. The discussion revolved around agent Tom Condon last year as well. Matt Leinart was the quarterback holding out because he felt that he deserved more money than the standard value at that draft slot.
  2. Leinart was getting a lot of bad publicity for holding out of training camp. Condon has now put an end to bad Quinn press for the time being.
  3. The media may have been too focused on bashing Quinn for holding out much like they based Leinart last year. Remember not to be too fast to criticize the player. Sometimes the team is being unfair and the agent/player should have some of the pain eased.
  4. The escalators in Leinart’s contract proved to be extremely important. At the time, no one figured that Leinart would be starting for a while (much like Quinn). However, Leinart disproved many, and will now make some good money based on the escalators in place. Condon was trying to help out his other client (Quinn) in the same manner.
  5. “Agent Tom Condon of CAA has proposed that the escalators would be triggered, raising Quinn’s base salaries in the final two years of what would be a five-year deal, if the quarterback reaches a 55-percent playing time level in any two of the first three seasons of the contract, or a level of 70 percent playing time in any one of the first three years. The Browns wanted the triggers designed to be more difficult to achieve.” [Quinn holds out as Browns, agent continue to haggle on contract]. Sound familiar to last year? “Leinart’s contract provides incentives similar to the one Byron Leftwich signed in 2003: if he participates in 55% or more of the offensive snaps for 2 seasons or 70% or more of the snaps in one season.”

Condon has successfully prevented having one of his first round clients turn out to be the last person signed for two consecutive years.  Will Quinn now be able to put the scrutiny behind him a la Matt Leinart?

-Darren Heitner