RENTON, Wash. – Linebacker Aaron Curry’s contract change has little to do with his present situation.
He is the Seattle Seahawks’ starting strongside linebacker, and that was going to be true whether he agreed to change his six-year rookie contract.
The change does affect Curry’s future, though. The contract now runs four years, leaving Curry to become a free agent after the 2012 season. The team actually has no guaranteed financial commitment to keep him next season.
Curry was chosen No. 4 overall in the 2009 draft, the highest Seahawks draft pick since cornerback Shawn Springs was drafted No. 3 in 1997. Curry started 28 of the 30 games he has played in two seasons, but has not emerged as the star everyone expected when he entered the NFL as one of the most promising rookie linebackers of recent years.
He was one of the players inherited by coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Both sides are trying to make this work, but Curry’s production has not measured up to either his or the team’s expectations. The new deal gives more flexibility both to the player and team, and it emphasizes the reality that this is not going to be the long-term marriage.
The original deal was for six years with a maximum potential value of $60 million, $34 million guaranteed. The new contract expires after 2012, but even that is not a given as the final year of Curry’s salary is no longer guaranteed. That makes it a question whether Curry will be a Seahawk in 2012.
This was different from the contract restructurings that are commonly seen when a veteran is asked to take a pay cut if he wants to remain on the team. Seattle was not going to cut Curry. Not with the amount of money that was guaranteed under the terms of that contract both in 2011 and 2012.
But Curry was willing to give up the provision that his 2012 base salary – which is about $5 million – be guaranteed to have the final two seasons of the contract removed. Seattle could choose to keep him through next season, paying the salary, or it could trade or release him.
“That’s not news that’s pertinent to what is going on right now to us,” Carroll said of Curry’s contract. “He’s doing great. He’s had a great camp. Like I’ve said, he has just been at the top of his game in terms of preparation.”
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