The Free Agent With No Agent
While there have been many moves in the first few weeks of free agency, the eyes of the agent community were squarely fixed on one player. Russell Okung, the former Seahawks lineman, made headlines for deciding to go into the free agency period agentless. Okung signed with the Denver Broncos and his contract has been subject to a lot of scrutiny.
Okung negotiated a unique two-part deal that has been criticized by those with ties to the agent business. The deal is essentially a 1 year, $5 million deal followed by option years for an average of $12 million over four years. Andrew Brandt broke down the details of that first year which has no guarantee upon signing.
Okung receives a $1 million bonus for completing 90% of the offseason workouts, a $2 million roster bonus, and a $2 million salary. There’s an additional $3 million in playing time incentives for Okung. The offseason workout bonus is easy money (not as easy as a signing bonus) but the other $4 million is contingent upon Okung making the roster. The worst-case scenario for Okung leaves him with $1 million while the best-case scenario would allow him to make $8 million in year 1.
As detailed by Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap, the real value to Okung is if the Broncos pick up his option after this season. The option would be for four years and average $12 million per year. Upon exercising the $1 million option, $19.5 million in salary would become guaranteed. Those numbers would place Okung amongst the upper echelon for his position in terms of value and fully guaranteed money.
Of course, the Broncos could also choose to release him after this upcoming season and Okung would get nothing. Additionally, getting released by a team is generally damaging to a player’s image entering free agency so that could work against Okung’s next contract if that were to happen.
One important point worth noting is that Okung did hire J.I. Halsell to help consult with the contract. Given Halsell’s past as an agent with Priority Sports and Cap Analyst with the Redskins, it would be hard to argue that Okung wasn’t well aware of the positives and negatives to his deal.
The consensus among non-agents seems to be that Okung’s deal isn’t bad but also shouldn’t encourage other players to go agentless. What do you think? Did Okung make a mistake by not having an agent negotiate his contract?