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Projecting LaRon Landry's contract

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Draft picks, unlike free agents, are paid in accordance with their draft position. #1 pick gets more than the #2 pick (typically) which gets more than the #3 which gets more than the #4... so on and so forth. Thus we can project how much our #6 pick is going to cost the team based on recent history.

In the 2006 draft the San Fransisco 49ers selected TE Vernon Davis with the 6th overall pick. Davis eventually signed a 5-year, 23M dollar contract with 15M and change guaranteed. His 2007 salary is listed at $360K. 15M signing bonus over 5 years prorates to 3M a year, so Davis will cost the 49ers around 3.36M in 2007 unless my math is off.

Position might influence a player's pay as certain positions tend to get paid more. Safety Michael Huff out of Texas was drafted with the 7th overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Oakland Raider. Per USA Today he cashed in on a 5-year 22.5M dollar contract with 15M guaranteed.

So now we're in the ballpark. Landry will seek at a minimum 15M signing bonus and at least 23M overall over 5 years. I would prefer a longer contract, though that gives you a general idea of what he's going to cost per year; over 4M. The 2006 draft picks were operating under the 2006 Salary Cap when they signed their contracts, which was at 102M. The 2007 Salary Cap is going to be in the range of 109M, which is around a 7% increase. If I were an NFL Agent, I would argue that rookies entering the league deserve a higher income based on the increased spending limits. Someone is compelled by a similar argument, as rookies' salaries increase over time.

As an example, Sean Taylor pocketed a 7-year 18M dollar deal in 2004 despite being the 4th pick of that draft. That would have been historically low, since Terrance Newman, drafted 5th overall in 2003, signed a 7-year deal worth over 20M. Perhaps that is the result of fluctuations in positions (receivers are paid more?), perhaps it was a failure of Sean Taylor's agent, or perhaps it was because much of Taylor's contract was UTBE (unlikely to be earned) incentives. As an example, he pocketed a cool 1.5M last year in UTBEs.

Let's talk about a possible upward limit. AJ Hawk was selected 5th overall in the 2006 draft by the Packers. He earned himself a cool 6-year, 37.5M contract with 16M guaranteed. I'd say that's about as much as we'd pay Landry this year, though probably (hopefully) less.

What do we know? LaRon Landry is going to get paid more than Sean Taylor. Taylor is on a 7-year deal through 2011 with the final year voidable. He deserves more money. There is no indication that Sean Taylor is the kind of guy to half-ass it due to frustration with his contract. He is an intense player on the field and I just don't think he's capable of turning it off. But could the presence of a young, higher-paid Landry change that? We know that Adam Archuleta's contract didn't seem to bother him (and Taylor knows he'll get paid) though a younger player might.

Reader(s), what would you realistically pay Landry based on prior history and his position?