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Contract Extension Examination: Patrick Surtain II

Last week, I addressed the contracts of players that will see their contracts expire after this season. But there are also contracts that are not expiring that the Broncos should also address as well. And in my opinion, no contract looms larger than that of Patrick Surtain II

In 2021, I implored the Broncos to select a great football player, regardless of position, with the 9th overall pick. George Paton answered that imploring by selecting Surtain. He has proven so despite–no, because–his name being not spoken often during a typical NFL broadcast, due to blotting out whoever he is covering. That type of silent coverage, both figuratively by action and literally by word, is reminiscent of the play the Broncos immediately got when they traded for Champ Bailey.

The earliest that a drafted player can have his contract altered is after his third regular season has concluded, per Article 7, Section 3(k)(i) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. For Surtain, that will be January 8, 2024. Once that date comes, work can–and should–be done to extend his contract.

To the top of the mountain

I’m not going to spend a lot of time sharing the entire details of the top tier of cornerback pay. Instead, I’m just going to provide a bullet list of the clubhouse leader in each important metric:

  • APY: $21 million (Jaire Alexander)
  • Full Guarantees: $44.5 million (Denzel Ward)
  • Maximum Guarantees: $71.203 million (Jalen Ramsey)
  • Cash Flows:
    • Year 1: $38.25 million (Marlon Humphrey)
    • Year 2: $48.75 million (Humphrey)
    • Year 3: $64.75 million (Alexander)
    • Year 4: $84.25 million (Alexander)

Surtain deserves to exceed all of this metrics, and decisively so.

The ceiling shattering contract

Base SalaryProrated BonusOption BonusCap NumberCash DueRunning Cash†

italics – fully guaranteed salary
*Salary is injury guaranteed that vests to full soon after start of 2028 new league year
**$4 million of salary is injury guaranteed that vests to full soon after start of 2029 new league year
†Running cash does not include $3,518,565 in old money from Surtain’s rookie contract.

This is a six year, $144 million contract ($24 million APY) with $72 million fully guaranteed. The full guarantees are achieved via a $26.4 million signing bonus (which, when prorated over five seasons, comes in serendipitous chunks of $5.280 million each), a $24 million option bonus, and fully guaranteed salaries from 2025 through 2027. Because the full guarantees are only barely above the maximum guarantees for Ramsey, also included are $28 million in vested guarantees in the fourth and fifth seasons of the contract, for the purpose of being able to be the first defensive back to break nine figures in maximum guarantees, something that will look really good when the NFL insiders tweet out “$100 million guaranteed” upon breaking the news.

Cash flow at every step is also well ahead of Surtain’s peers: about $11 million more in Year 1, a closer call in Year 2 due to the lull in the advance payment coming from the signing and option bonuses, but still ahead by about $3 million, then taking off again in Years 3 and 4 with being ahead by $11.5 million and $17.5 million.

Get ahead of (and establish) the market

The Broncos should not fool around with this contract. Paying an utmost premium for Surtain now, well above the peak–could end up saving the team later when what’s utmost goes even higher. Just one year after Surtain first becomes eligible for an extension, Sauce Gardner will be eligible for the same, and given his high profile rising at the same time as Surtain’s, he will also look for the same high profile contract as soon as he can. A season after that will come the 2023 rookie class, where five cornerbacks were selected in the first round, if we count Joey Porter Jr. being the 32nd overall pick due to the Dolphins’ failed tampering in pursuit of Sean Payton. Intermediaries that would applaud this deal include L’Jarius Sneed, Jaylon Johnson, Jaycee Horn, Benjamin St-Juste, Derek Stingley Jr., and Trent McDuffie.

Raising the cornerback market now for a player as elite and steady as Surtain would put pressure on other teams to have to return serve with their own cornerbacks coming up for contracts. Imagine the Chiefs being pressured to find room for both retaining Sneed now and McDuffie a year or two later. Imagine the loquaciousness that Gardner could inflict within the New York market upon seeing this contract. That’s the type of competition the Broncos could push upon the rest of the league if they could seal the deal with Surtain as soon as they can.