In a strange free agency case, Seattle might lose Steve Hutchinson, one of their offensive linemen.
The Seahawks and the NFL lost their case against the NFL Players Association and the Minnesota Vikings today, and Seattle now has until 9 p.m. to decide if it will match the Vikings’ monstrous contract offer for left guard Steve Hutchinson.
The Seahawks moved to bring back Hutchinson today, when it was confirmed they had re-worked left tackle Walter Jones’ long-term contract to put him below Hutchinson as the highest-paid offensive lineman on the team, per average annual base salary.
The Seahawks presented the restructuring as part of their case against the NFLPA, their representatives hoping that by doing so, Hutchinson would then be the highest-paid offensive lineman on the team.
The NFLPA, on behalf of Hutchinson, argued that language in the Vikings’ contract called for immediate highest-paid status upon the signing of the offer sheet.
Basically, the Seahawks gambled with the transition tag and lost. BIG TIME. Hutchinson’s agent deserves a decent portion of that new contract. Either they pay Hutchinson a guaranteed $49 million over 7 years, or they let him get away to the Vikings. If they keep him, they eat a good portion of their cap that they weren’t planning to, and Walter Jones is unhappy because he gave up money for nothing. There is no way Seattle is going to give him his old contract with Hutchinson taking up so much cap space. They also end up with only $7 million left in cap space to get a big name free agent. Whoever had this idea to get another team to guarantee the full contract if Hutchinson isn’t the highest paid lineman on the team is a genius.
It will be interesting to see what the Seahawks do. They have only a matter of hours to decide.
UPDATE: Hutchinson has left for the Vikings. He won’t make a guararenteed $49 million there, but he should get a decent chunk of change just the same (under the terms of the contract the Vikings offered him, he’d be the highest paid offensive lineman in Minnesota, thus not triggering the “make the entire contract guaranteed” clause that Seattle was going to have to abide by; this was a great move to get either a great contract in Minnesota or an even better one in Seattle; they were bound to win either way, why not play with the house money to see what happened?). It should be interesting to see what Seattle does now with Jones, and if they pick up any other big free agents.
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