College Football Players Contract Negotiation Headline

Let’s Make a Deal: Ndamukong Suh

Welcome to the first edition of Let’s Make a Deal. Darren and I have spoken about this column and feel that it is worth a test run, so naturally we need your participation!

Basically, this column is a mock negotiation. In each post I will take one college football player who’s expected to be drafted in the first three rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft (as per the Mock Draft). I will be acting as the client’s representation, and in the beginning of each post, I will give the player’s information as well as a contract amount that I am requesting. In the pursuing paragraphs I will support my claim and basically tell why my client should receive this contract amount.

Here is where you, the reader, come in. I invite you to be the executive and negotiator of the team I am speaking with, so please comment with any counter-offers and your reasons why my numbers don’t match yours.

Ndamukong Suh

Defensive Tackle, Nebraska

6’4”, 305 pounds

1st round/1st overall selection to the St. Louis Rams

Requested Offer: 5 years/$65.5 million

Here are the 1st overall contracts from the years 2007-2009 (percentage increase/decrease from the previous year is shown and reflects the per year amounts):

  • 2007: JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU (Raiders)– 6 years/$61 million
  • 2008: Jake Long, OT, Michigan (Dolphins) – 5 years/$57.75 million (+13.68%)
  • 2009: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia (Lions)– 6 years/$72 million (+3.90%)

The amount that I am requesting for my client is approximately a 9% increase from the per-year amount of Matthew Stafford’s 2009 rookie contract.

Listed are the defensive tackles chosen in the first round of the 2007 draft:

  • 10th overall – Amobi Okoye – 6 years/$15.4 million
  • 16th overall – Justin Harrell – 6 years/$14.507 million

Listed are the defensive tackles chosen in the first round of the 2008 draft:

  • 5th overall – Glenn Dorsey – 5 years/$33 million
  • 7th overall – Sedrick Ellis – 5 years/$32 million
  • 29th overall – Kentwan Balmer – 5 years/$8 million

Listed are the defensive tackles chosen in the first round of the 2009 draft:

  • 9th overall – B.J. Raji – 5 years/$22.9 million
  • 24th overall – Peria Jerry – 5 years/$10.35 million
  • 32nd overall – Evander Hood – 4 years/$9 million

Upon reviewing these contract totals, you may be confused as to why I am asking for such a large amount. The reasoning is simple and I will demonstrate my explanation by using the table of statistics below:

Player Seasons Tackles TFL Solo Ast Sack FF INT TD
Suh 5 214 57 125 89 24 3 4 2
Okoye 3 99 8 30 36 2.5 0 0 0
Harrell 3 75 13 43 32 4 4 2 0
Dorsey 4 179 27 87 92 13 0 0 0
Ellis 4 145 28.5 29 29 8 2 0 0
Balmer 4 93 17 54 39 7 0 0 0
Raji 4 99 32.5 56 43 9 1 0 0
Jerry 4 132 33 79 53 11.5 2 1 0
Hood 2 59 37 22 5.5 2 0 0

As you can see, Suh leads all defensive tackles (drafted in the first round from 2007-2009 NFL Drafts) in all but one category. Not only does he lead the DTs in these categories, he blows them out of the water!

As I said above, the amount I am requesting for my client is approximately a 9% increase from the amount of Matthew Stafford’s contract in 2009. Contract amounts have raised (on average) approximately 8.79% each year for the last three years. Ndamukong Suh is said to be one of the best rookie prospects to ever enter the draft. Suh is explosive and strikes fear in offenses. Not only will Suh work his tail off for you, he will get you the results that you dreamed of when you drafted him. He will be the face of the St. Louis Rams organization and will be the cornerstone of your team for years to come!

Obviously, there are two sides to every negotiation so I’m open to your thoughts. Thank you for the time.

43 replies on “Let’s Make a Deal: Ndamukong Suh”

While we do realize the tremendous value of your client, we also realize the value of his position. We are not willing to pay a 9% increase on last years first pick, due to the reasoning that last years first pick was a quarterback. Instead we are willing to offer 5 yr/$60 million, this is the same percentage as the Matthew Stafford contract. He will not receive any less than the first pick of the 2009 draft and this is how he will compare to some of the most recently signed defensive contracts:
Shaun Rodgers – 6 yr/$42 million (+71.43%)
Tommy Kelly – 7 yr/$50.5 million (+66.44%)
Tommie Harris – 4 yr/$40 million (+20%)
Dwight Freeney – 6 yr/$72 million (no change)
Albert Haynesworth – 7 yr/$100 million (-19.08%)

Timothy – Thank you for seeing the value of Suh. However, one thing I must disagree with you on is with the comparisons of Suh’s rookie contract to the contracts of NFL veterans. Although the players you listed are very good defense linemen, they have been in the NFL for a few years and have been able to build a stock. My main concern for Suh is for him to be financially secure for a number of years since injuries can happen at any time.

With that said, the value of the contracts for first round draft picks have increased every year. If we look back to the 2005 NFL draft, the 1st overall pick was QB Alex Smith. Smith received a 6-year, $49.5 million contract. In 2006, DE Mario Williams was drafted 1st overall and received a contract of 6-years, $54 million with incentives to reach $60 million total (a 9% increase from Alex Smith’s total). My point is that Williams was a DE but still received a 9% increase from the amount given to a QB just the year earlier.

Looking more recently than the comparison of Alex Smith and Mario Williams, I would like to bring attention to the comparison of Jake Long and JaMarcus Russel. Jake Long did not sign a larger contract than JaMarcus Russel, in fact it was 10% less than. In Long’s contract there was a 6th year that is voidable due to his rookie playing time as a starter and contingent upon him staying on the roster 5 days after the 2012 season. The original contract signed was not a 13% increase, but rather a 10% decrease. If we look at a more recent precedent, the value has not consistently increased each year and shows an increase in the contracts signed by quarterbacks over other positions.

I understand your main concern with wanting your client to be financially secure and we feel very strongly that our offer will be satisfactory to keep your client secured financially. However our main concern is having to pay an unproven rookie that much of a percentage higher than the top proven players at his position, which as shown by the numbers already offered we are more than happy to do so. If financial stability is the main concern, then your client should feel secured in knowing that he is already receiving a higher salary than the top players at his position.

It seems to us that it is not the finances concerning your client, but whether he is paid an increase from last year’s first overall pick. As an organization we feel that the first overall pick last year was overpaid and we are not willing to offer any higher. We stand firm in our offer of 5 yr/$60 million, but we do understand your concerns with unforeseen injuries and receiving some kind of increase over last years first overall pick. This is why we are willing to work with that number and offer the following:

Total Salary – $60 million, 5 years
Roster Bonus – $3 million
Guaranteed – $38 million
2010 – $8 million ($5 million base plus $3 million roster bonus)
2011 – $6.5 million
2012 – $7.25 million
2013 – $9.25 million
2014 – $10 million

Matthew Stafford received $41.7 million guaranteed, of Stafford’s guaranteed money only $17.05 million is truly guaranteed, and the rest depends on the percentage of the snaps that Stafford takes. Jake Long received $30 million guaranteed, while JaMarcus Russel received $29 million guaranteed. We are offering your client higher guaranteed money than any of the previous three first overall picks. Stafford’s contract is truly inflated and not worth the amount it was signed for, and we can not budge and offer higher than this inflated contract. We are willing to offer your client true guaranteed money and a roster bonus. By receiving a roster bonus, this does not count towards your base salary and will not effect the 25% rule, but still gives you a sense of security in the unforeseen event of injury. As you previously stated, injury is one of your main concerns, and now with this added roster bonus your client can feel secure in receiving compensation early in his career.

Great point, thanks for making a strong effort to get this done. I have a slight change that I’d like to make to your offer.

Total Salary – $60 million, 5 years
Roster Bonus – $3 million
Guaranteed – $38 million
2010 – $10 million ($7 million base plus $3 million roster bonus)
2011 – $6.5 million
2012 – $7.25 million
2013 – $8.25 million
2014 – $9 million

I cut off some base salary and added it onto the 2010 base only to provide financial security for my client in case of a lockout in the 2011 year.

Let me know what you think.

In response to your offer below (it wouldn’t let me reply to it), we would accept. I feel this works out for both parties. We maintain our original offer of the same contract rate that Stafford signed, and your client feels secure in his finances in case of injury or a lockout.

Even though I negotiate for players and not for teams, I will try my hand at this exercise.

Everyone knows that Stafford was overpaid last year. Not just overpaid, but substantially overpaid. Also, he’s a quarterback. Suh is a defensive tackle. In light of the upcoming labor problems, uncapped year and looming lockout, our starting point needs to be Mario Williams’ 6-year, $54 million deal with $26.5 guaranteed.

Jason – thanks for commenting. Although Stafford may be seen as overpaid by some, he was drafted 1st overall and that sets him apart from the rest of the draftees. As I told Timothy above, Mario Williams was a defensive end taken 1st overall and still received a 9% increase in yearly salary compared to the previous years’ 1st overall selection, QB Alex Smith.

Darren – I respect your reasoning but I’d like to bring up the point that Jake Long was signed to a contract that was a whopping 13.68% increase from the previous year in which a QB was drafted 1st overall. What increased value does a first-year, unproven quarterback have over a dominant defensive tackle that will not only make the defensive line better but will impact the defense as a whole?

Dominic – I am following your train of thought, but as the team with the number one pick, I must be able to pay all of my draft picks, not just Mr. Suh. My main argument though would be that Suh is an unproven DT, on the NFL level, that we hope may eventually make our entire defense better.

Every rookie that is drafted is unproven. The fact is that there are market values for each of those players. Suh has been said to be NFL ready since the start of the season and maybe even earlier. He has intangibles like none other and wants to win. That, to me, is convincing enough to get this man paid according to his market price.

I think the number is reasonable. Of course the key is developing the sales pitch to justify the number. Along with the raw individual statistics, I think here is the essence of why you pay top dollar for Ndamukong Suh: when you pay for Suh, you’re really paying for better overall team defense. The real value is the positive impact he has on his teammates. He demands double teams, so he DT counterpart at Nebraska had a big year… he’ll collapse the pocket, flushing the QB to the outside and creating more sack opportunities for your edge rushers… he’ll force the ball to come out of the QB’s hand faster, creating more turnover opportunities for the defensive backs. What would it cost to sign FA upgrades to all the positions mentioned?

That his sheer dominance requires extra attention and will disrupt what an offense is trying to do is a selling point even beyond his incredible stats. With that said, a 13.1M/year deal may even be a low starting point for his agent in my opinion.

I would have to disagree with your reasoning Bryan. For the mere fact that you can say the same thing about drafting a quarterback. You are paying for a better overall TEAM and the impact will be the effect he has on the players around him. When you get a good quarterback he makes everyone look better, defense included. If he has good ball management then your defense will be better rested, thus they will improve. A good quarterback can make average receivers look great, like the beginning of this season with the NY Giants before Eli got plantar fisciitis, those receivers looked amazing before Eli started letting it fly high. A good quarterback with a good pocket presence or good scrambling ability will make your offense line look better. I think if we are deciding this based on the value that this player will add to the team overall, then there is no way that we can pay him higher than a quarterback. That is why I feel we stand firm in holding the same offer as Matthew Stafford $12 million/yr for 5 yr/$60 million and offer no higher.

I do like what Jason pointed out about Mario Williams being the starting point, but I think Jake Long makes this hard by signing that large of an increase over a quarterback top pick. I don’t think after that you can drop back down to Williams’ contract, but I think we can find even ground and hold at the same contract rate as Stafford. It’s easy to see Suh has more talent and potential than Jake Long did when he was selected first overall, that is why I don’t think we will be able to find common ground below that point. Who knows if a new CBA will get signed in time, but it will sure make things interesting on how this draft class is paid.

Timothy – I don’t disagree with you on the fact that you can say the same about a quarterback as you can with Suh. Since that’s true, why not pay him the same as a QB would be paid when drafted 1st overall? They are both difference makers but on opposite sides of the ball. If Suh makes an impact on the defense and the D is able to stop opposing offenses, this will put less pressure on the offense to make plays.

Timothy- there is no doubt that a QB can and should improve the guys around him as well. And there’s no question that if we’re talking about Peyton Manning then it doesn’t get any more valuable than that. But I’m not trying to establish Suh’s value by de-valuing QB’s. I was more or less showing that a DT can have the same impact for a defense that a QB has for an offense, and therefore the fact that he is a DT should not negatively affect his worth as some suggest.

I realize I’m supposed to be playing the role of the team’s negotiator… but just for argument’s sake I would also play on the Rams’ insecurities. Show them the list of QB’s drafted in the top 5 who completely busted and set their team back 3 seasons. Drive home that Suh is smarter money being spent. A surer thing.

This is exactly why we remain firm in our offer of paying him the amount that was offered to the first overall pick, a quarterback, of last year’s draft. We feel that Matthew Stafford’s contract is highly inflated with incentives and playing time requirements on guaranteed money. The offer stands at 5 yr/$60 million.

are you going to counter my 5/40?
I’ll guarantee 28 mill
incentives to push the deal to 48
FYI – I have Derrick Morgan’s agent on the line.

Oops, misread your original offer. I’m sorry but 5-years, $40 million is an unfair price for my client. Especially unfair for a 1st overall pick. I can do 5-years, $60 million with $32.75 mil in guaranteed money.

Dominic, times are tough this year. Here in St. Louis, our economic outlook is even bleaker than it is elsewhere. You are kidding yourself if you want 9 percent over Stafford. I am not suggesting he needs to settle for Mario Williams money but that is our starting point.

I see your point, made by Timothy, about Long. But he is an outlier. A stellar offensive lineman singlehandedly turns around an entire franchise. Look no further than the Dolphins in Long’s rookie year, who went from worst to first.

Stafford and Suh are not adequate comparables so if you’re holding firm on this comparison, your client is going back into the draft next year. And we all know that there may not even be a 2011 season. Can he afford not to be paid for the next two years?

10 percent above Mario Williams money. I am talking about 10 percent above his $26.5 million guaranteed. In order for you to save face with your client and the agent community, you can propose something creative for the fifth and sixth years as long at is not guaranteed.

I don’t believe giving a 1st overall pick in 2010 a raise of 10% from 2005 is fair. I’d like to have more money up front for the first year because of the threat of a lockout.

Also, Jason, could you e-mail me at [email protected]? I just have a few things to ask you…thanks

i have the number one pick and can choose to talk several players.
my budget for this pick is at its max and i have actually gone above what I wanted to pay for this pick already. Over 11 mil a year, is more than any other DT rookie has ever been paid.
I want to be up front with you. This is my final offer and I want to make sure you tell your client this information. I can draft him and he can sit for as long as he wants before he signs this deal. i can go offer another deal to another player and he wil get drafted second or third and will not make what I am offering and I assume that is not what you or your client wants to do.

I can assure you that a player chosen 1st overall will not sign a contract valued less than other 1st overall deals in the past 5 years. With this being said, I do not think you are taking the right approach to this. My client wants to play football but he hired me to make sure his finances and family are taken care of for years to come. All I want is what is fair. There is a possibility of a 2011 lockout so in order to sign the deal, we will need to receive a large roster bonus. We will accept your last offer if you also offer an adequate roster bonus.

(I love the idea of this article and the discussion it’s created.)

With the uncertainty of an uncapped season and the prolonged effect it may result in, I cannot sign Ndamukong Suh to a five-year deal with an annual average of $12M (equal to the AAS of Dwight Freeney, a consistent proven commodity at a comparable position.)

A six-year, $65M deal (with $32.5M guaranteed and a $4M signing bonus) is more logical when considering all factors, including the context of the CBA.

There is no denying Suh’s accomplishments as a college DT, and based on his size and style of play (which has drawn many Warren Sapp comparisons,) it is not hard to imagine an easy transition to the size and speed of the NFL.

But $12M/yr with almost 40 guaranteed is a tad too high for us.

If only the Rams played a3-4 defense, instead of a 4-3. This would such an easier sell. Clearly Suh is a dream nose tackle for any team running a 3-4; he’s just a beast. I’d probably throw in something about how the offensive lines in the NFC West are arguably some of the weakest in the whole NFL and that Suh has the opportunity to make an immediate impact against the O-Lines of the 49ers, Cardinals, and Seahawks.

So im poppin my cherry here but how about this.

Total salary- $52 million, 4year w/ an option for a 5th year for $13 million
Roster bonus- $3 million
Guaranteed- $35 million
2010- $10 million (7 million base plus 3 million roster bonus)
2011-$ 8 million
2012-$ 8.5 million
2013- $11.5 million
2014- $13 million(option)

Im sure Mr. Roosevelt Barnes is going to handle business!! The best contract negotiator in sports history!!! Im so anxious to see this contract!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah i said it! lol

Just curious as to where you are all obtaining previous draftees contract values and details? I have tried looking for such a database with no luck. Thanks!

I would like to see him go to the Vikings if at all possible, maybe he is the one we need to get to that super bowl and win it:) gotta Love the SUH!!!

Interested Neophyte.

I’m new to the site. This, and other posts, have piqued my interest. How close to actual negotiations are the exchanges in this post?

For what it’s worth, it seems to me that the positional requirements of a quarterback and defensive lineman are so different that a “Mario Williams” starting point makes the most sense. I think Suh deserves a premium over prior years defensive first rounders as he was the best player on a defensive powerhouse. Also, would the parties consider a few intangibles in their negotiations: 1) Suh seems to be a good locker room guy, 2) if St. Louis is the team, it makes good sense from a marketing perspective to (Suh being a Cornhusker).


5 years/45.5 M w/ ensentives
29.5 Guaranteed
2010- 8.5 million (5 sacks=1.5M)
2011-8.0 million (8 sacks=2.5M)
2012-8.5 million (8 sacks=3.0M)
2013-9.0 million (10 sacks=4.5M)
2014-11.5 million (consecutive 10 sack season=8.0M)

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