Seahawks still wait for Russell Okung to sign
Seahawks' top pick Russell Okung misses third straight day of camp. "We're very open and very strong about trying to get this thing done, and each day it's gone by, Russell falls farther behind and it's hurting him immensely," coach Pete Carroll said.
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — Gauging the significance of Russell Okung's absence from Seahawks training camp became easy with a look at Seattle's practice field Monday morning.
The first-unit left tackle: Mansfield Wrotto.
Now, Wrotto is a diligent worker. He is courteous and tough, but he was drafted to play guard and he couldn't crack the starting lineup at that position last season. Yet with Okung unsigned and Ray Willis resting the morning practice, that left Wrotto working at the most important position with the first-unit offensive line.
Which puts a little more urgency behind the question of just when Seattle is going to get Okung signed.
"It's a pretty clear-cut situation," coach Pete Carroll said after the evening workout. "We're very open and very strong about trying to get this thing done, and each day it's gone by, Russell falls farther behind and it's hurting him immensely. Hopefully, we'll be able to get something done here, but it's very clear-cut, and it does not need to be a difficult situation right here."
OK. Deep breath. Okung has missed just three days, hardly an eternity. Willis was back on the field for the evening workout, filling the spot at left tackle, though it should also be pointed out that's a position Willis has never played in a real game.
Aaron Curry — last year's first-round pick — missed the first eight days of training camp. Center Chris Spencer missed five in 2005.
But of the 32 first-round picks, Okung is one of just three who remain unsigned. And more than that, the three players picked in front of him and two chosen after him have all signed with their respective teams. There are no variables left to impact negotiations.
The Seahawks, Okung and his agent, Peter Schaffer, have a clear view of the financial landscape around them, and the fact that Okung is not signed means that someone will have to blink.
Schaffer declined to comment on the situation, saying he doesn't negotiate through the press. Carroll was asked if he would describe the situation as an impasse.
"I can't tell you that," Carroll said. "I don't know that. Stuff happens every day."
But there's got to be a reason nothing has happened so far. So what are the potential sticking points?
Length of the contract: Three of the five players picked in front of Okung have signed six-year deals. All of the players chosen after him have signed for five years. Adding a sixth year is a significant concession for a player, who will want more guaranteed money for putting off his free agency for a year.
Negotiations to add a sixth year to Curry's contract slowed discussions last year, and were a big part of the reason he missed the first eight days of practices before signing.
Position premium: Safety Eric Berry was chosen by Kansas City with the No. 5 pick, one choice ahead of Okung. On average, safeties don't make as much as left tackles.
Generally, rookie contracts proceed in descending order. A player chosen sixth overall receives a slightly larger contract than the player chosen seventh, who in turn receives a slightly larger contract than a player picked eighth. Quarterbacks tend to be the exception.
Mark Sanchez, the No. 5 choice last season, received a larger contract than Tyson Jackson, the defensive end picked third by the Chiefs. Matt Ryan of Atlanta signed the largest rookie contract of any player in 2008 despite being chosen third overall.
The same premium is generally not applied at left tackle.
"There's just so much history and pattern to this, you know," Carroll said. "So we'll see."
So the wait continues.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
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