Clowney in line for big payday - minus drama of yesteryear

jkendall@thestate.comMay 14, 2014 

Houston Texans first-round draft pick Jadeveon Clowney speaks during a press conference at Reliant Stadium.

TROY TAORMINA — USA TODAY Sports

Jadeveon Clowney won’t be sweating out salary negotiations.

The NFL’s three-year-old collective bargaining agreement makes sure of that. Prior to the league’s new CBA, NFL rookies often held out for better deals and a player who, like Clowney, was selected No. 1 overall could be in line for a $50 million deal.

The new deal slots the salary for each draft pick, meaning Clowney’s deal will be based on this year’s Rookie Compensation Pool, which is expected to be $955 million this year, according to Forbes.com. As the top selection, Clowney will get the biggest chunk of that in a four-year deal that Forbes.com projects will be worth $22,272,998 including salary and signing bonus.

Clowney, a two-time All-America defensive lineman at South Carolina, was selected with the top pick last week by the Houston Texans last week. When Clowney’s deal will be signed is unknown, but there’s no real reason it should take long, said longtime Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt, who is now an analyst for NFL.com.

“They may negotiate for 12 season tickets or just some things like that, but the money isn’t going to be any different,” Brandt said.

Along with making holdouts unlikely, the NFL’s new salary structure protects teams from wrapping up too much money in young players. The Detroit Lions, for instance, have half of their salary cap committed to three early draft picks they signed prior to the new CBA – quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.

“The whole purpose of the new collective bargaining agreement was to make sure the veterans were getting the money and not untried rookies,” Brandt said. “I think that is only fair. Whatever the number is that (Clowney) is going to get, do you think that when they played Arkansas and he was there on his (official visit in 2010), you think he had any thought he would get that kind of money?”

In the meantime, Clowney is not hurting for dollars. He already has signed four endorsement deals, including one with Puma that Brandt said is worth around $190 million. Clowney also has deals with Wilson, Gillette and New Era, according to ESPN.com.

“Bus Cook is pretty good at negotiating deals,” Brandt said of Clowney’s agent. “He’s an old Southern lawyer, and he knows where the last dollar is hidden.”

Cook did not return a message seeking comment for this article.

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Show me the money

Contract projections for the top 10 picks in the NFL draft, according to Spotrac.com.

Player, Pos.TeamTotal ContractSigning Bonus
1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE   Houston$22,272,998$14,518,544
2. Greg Robinson, TSt. Louis$21,284,098$13,799,344
3. Blake Bortles, QBJacksonville    $20,654,810    $13,341,680
4. Sammy Watkins, WRBuffalo$19,935,603 $12,818,620
5. Khalil Mack, LBOakland$18,676,999$11,903,272
6. Jake Matthews, TAtlanta$16,429,501$10,268,728
7. Mike Evans, WRTampa Bay$14,631,502$8,961,092
8. Justin Gilbert, CBCleveland$12,833,502$7,653,456
9. Anthony Barr, LBMinnesota$12,743,500$7,588,000
10. Eric Ebron, TEDetroit$12,249,149$7,228,472

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