This is really, really old.... but
NFL contracts are generally not guaranteed, unlike those in baseball, basketball and hockey. Technically, option bonuses aren't guaranteed, either.
Before 2001, such deals were rare. But clubs have warmed to the structure because it allows them to close deals with key players and lessen the first-year hit under the NFL's $71.1 million salary cap. "I think they've institutionalized it," says Duberstein, referring to agents and clubs.
Ravens vice president Ozzie Newsome says, "When we did the deal, we were looking for a long-term relationship."
Grbac has retired. Still, since Grbac's deal, agents have pressed to include more protection for players with option bonuses who could be vulnerable if injured or if their performance falls. Buyback clauses, incentives and other guarantees are all part of the mix.
Consider Jets running back Curtis Martin's new eight-year, $46 million contract. If the Jets don't pick up a $10 million option, he's still guaranteed $8.4 million.
"The way most of these deals are structured, it's not to the team's advantage not to exercise the option," says agent Roosevelt Barnes, whose clients include Ravens linebackers Lewis and Peter Boulware. "If players are cut, they can ite off the free-agent apple again."