We've reached the second major question of the offseason (OC being the first). What the heck kind of contract do you offer a guy like Shaun Hill? I am thinking of this because Matt Maiocco is reporting the 49ers have informed Shaun Hill's agent a contract proposal is forthcoming:
"To their credit, they've been great," said Bob Lattinville, who represents the 49ers' newest folk hero. "They're getting to work on this early. I'm looking forward to seeing what the 49ers put together."
The 49ers and Hill have seven weeks to work out a contract extension. The free-agent signing period begins at 9:01 p.m., Pacific time, on Feb. 28. Until then, the 49ers are the only team that can negotiate with Hill.
Matt brings up an interesting point later asking simply: What kind of question does Hill deserve? Based on some opinions floating around the Internet, Hill should join the $100 million QB club. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess he will not be receiving that kind of contract. While making the league minimum, Shaun Hill played 10 quarters of football, completed 68.4% of his passes for 501 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT, a QB rating of 101.3 and was 2-0 as a starter. According to Maiocco:
As with any free agent, Hill wants to maximize his guaranteed money since a player's contract can be cut so easily in the NFL. Personally, I'd expect an incentive-laden contract with a decent little signing bonus. The signing bonus can be spread over the life of the contract, which helps them with the cap. Hill gets upfront money and a chance to earn more if he can win the job. Of course, things are never that simple, but I'm of the opinion that this deal can be worked out quickly.
At the same time, I was trying to consider any comparable situation. Hill's agent discussed what they would be looking for in a contract:
A little research and I came across a name I haven't seen in years: Rob Johnson. For those that don't recall, Rob Johnson was a 4th round draft choice of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In his first two seasons, Rob Johnson played in 3 games and completed 3 of 7 passes. Then, in 1997:
And what a start it was.
Playing for the injured Brunell, [Rob] Johnson completed 20-of-24 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns. Though hobbled by a severely sprained ankle that twice forced him to the sideline, Johnson also ran for a score and guided the Jaguars downfield late in the fourth quarter for the touchdown that clinched a 28-27 victory. That first impression made a lasting impression on Wilson. "I learned long ago that you can't win in this game without a strong quarterback," he says. "I can't say how this will pan out; nobody can. All I know is I have very good vibes about Rob Johnson."
That one game was hardly the extent of their research. They went deep into Johnson's athletic past, breaking down miles of tape from NFL exhibition games and Johnson's career at USC. They also conducted interviews with people who played and coached with and against Johnson. They liked what they saw and heard. Johnson is the prototypical quarterback of the '90s--big (6-4, 215 pounds), strong, athletic and intelligent. Though not quite as mobile as Favre or Brunell, he has enough elusiveness to buy time and make plays. And the right arm that convinced the Twins to draft him in the 16th round out of E1 Toro (Calif.) High School is capable of chucking a football downfield with authority or feathering it to a back or tight end--something he may be called upon to do often in new offensive coordinator Joe Pendry's ball-control attack.
The Jaguars proceeded to deal Johnson to the Bills for a first and fourth round draft pick and the Bills then signed Johnson to a 5-year, $25 million deal with an $8 million signing bonus. I think it's reasonable to believe Shaun Hill does not even get this kind of contract. I could see something more like maybe David Garrard. While Byron Leftwich was still the starting guy, David Garrard received a 3-year extension for $5.25 million in April of 2005.
So what does everybody think? What kind of deal do you see Shaun Hill snagging for himself and can you think of any other comparable situations around the league now or in the past?