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What Von Miller’s contract negotiations can teach us about Andrew Luck’s long-term deal

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck isn’t the only star NFL player to be working on a long-term deal this offseason with his team. The Broncos and outside linebacker Von Miller, who is fresh off of a Super Bowl MVP performance, are still working on reaching that long-term agreement.

Miller is currently scheduled to play (or not play) 2016 under the franchise tag, but both sides want to get a deal done before then. It sounds like the holdup has to do with the amount of guaranteed money in the deal. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, the Broncos and Miller both agree on a six-year deal worth $114.5 million, but the difference comes in the guaranteed money. Florio says the Broncos offered Miller $38.5M fully guaranteed at signing and that number would rise to $58M guaranteed in March of 2018. Miller, however, wants a larger amount of guaranteed money and wants the full guarantee to come in March of 2017 instead of 2018. The Eagles just recently gave Fletcher Cox $63M in total guarantees, so Miller’s side seems to be remaining reasonable.

I don’t bring this up in order to get into Miller’s situation as much as I bring it up to highlight this fact once again: for players, the guaranteed money is what really matters. That’s important to keep in mind for Andrew Luck’s coming deal as well, as the guaranteed money is really what people will be paying attention to. It’s likely that the deal overall will be something similar to a five-year, $125 million contract for Luck, but the question remains how much guaranteed money he will get.

“That’s going to be the over arching issue. The guaranteed money and how front-loaded they make it,’’ former sports agent and current CBS analyst Joel Corry told CBS4’s Mike Chappell earlier this week.

The point is that the years of a contract don’t really mean as much, nor does the overall monetary value that can at times be inflated by money at the end of a deal that the player never sees. In Andrew Luck’s case he likely will be around long enough to collect on the entire deal, but that doesn’t mean he should just take less guaranteed money - if anything, it should make the Colts more willing to give it to him.

In recent years, five quarterbacks have received a new contract that included at least $60M in guaranteed money (according to Spotrac): the Giants’ Eli Manning, the Chargers’ Phillip Rivers, the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick, and the Panthers’ Cam Newton. Manning and Rivers lead the way as both received a new contract last offseason containing $60M in guarantees, and considering Luck’s age in relation to them (as well as the rising salary cap), it’s very possible and perhaps even likely that the Colts’ quarterback could receive guarantees in excess of $70M. Even that would only result in 56% of his contract guaranteed (operating with the assumed $125M figure), which is significantly lower than the contracts of Manning, Rivers, and Wilson (who all had over 70% of their deals guaranteed).

A contract extension for Andrew Luck is coming at some point, and the only question is how large it will end up being - and how much of that will be guaranteed. Luck is in a position to be able to get massive guaranteed money, and it’s likely that it is a point of discussion between the sides. Von Miller’s situation helps show even more clearly just how important guaranteed money is to players, and Andrew Luck should be able to capitalize on that with a huge number guaranteed when he signs his deal with the Colts.