One reason you might take a contract that offers you no guaranteed money? You just aren’t interested in playing for the team that offered you the guaranteed money.
That appears to be the case with left tackle Russell Okung, who signed a five year, $53 million contract with the Denver Broncos. Sure, $53 million sounds great, but not one penny of that money is guaranteed. The first year comes with a $1 million workout bonus, $2 million if he makes the roster out of camp, and a $2 million base salary. There are also playing time bonuses in the deal, which if he accomplishes all of them, would net him an additional $3 million, making the first year worth as much as $8 million, but none of it is guaranteed.
After that, the remaining four years are all team options. With the last four years all averaging around $12 million a year, it is quite possible that he is back on the market again after this season.
While all the details of the contract that the Lions offered Okung have not been released, Sports Illustrated released the details of what the first year reportedly would have looked like. The team offered him a $1 million signing bonus, $1 million base salary, $125,000 per game bonus, and an extra $2.5 million in playing time bonuses, making the upper value of the first year $6.5 million.
The small signing bonus makes it seem that the overall length of the deal would not have been very long either, but that cannot be confirmed.
But, the prospect of playing in Detroit was not appealing enough for Okung, leading him to sign the non-guaranteed contract with the Broncos.