Fooch's Update: Per Jason Hurley, Okoye's guaranteed money is $18,405 in signing bonus, and $50,000 in 2015 salary guarantee.
The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their coaching search this week, but prior to that they had handled some simple transaction business. In the two weeks following the close of the season, the team signed their seven practice squad players to reserve/future contracts. These contracts ensure the player can take part in the offseason workout program and training camp.
In an interesting bit of news, defensive tackle Lawrence Okoye's reserve/future contract reportedly contains one of the largest guarantees of any such deal across the league. Brian McIntyre is reporting Okoye's deal included a $68,405 signing bonus. It is possible someone will sign for more, or already has and we are not aware. However, the fact that Okoye is already among the highest is rather fascinating. McIntyre tweeted that most reserve/future deals do not include these kind of guarantees.
Okoye joined the 49ers because of defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Okoye knew of Tomsula through the latter's work in NFL Europe. He viewed him as the kind of coach that can teach and mold him into an NFL-caliber defensive lineman. Okoye spent his rookie season on injured reserve, and his second season on the practice squad, but this signing bonus would seem to tell us the team believes he can take a step forward in 2015.
This signing bonus does not mean they expect him to make the roster, but they clearly like something about him. Considering the 49ers promoted his coach to head coach, I do wonder what that will mean for this coming offseason workout program and training camp. Tomsula likely will not be able to provide as much one-on-one tutoring to Okoye, but I also think that will not be as big an issue now that he has two offseason workout programs and training camps under his belt.
It is certainly one of many reasons I hope Justin Smith returns for another year, given the example he could set for Okoye. Nonetheless, hopefully Okoye has reached a level where he has the basic set of skills to build on without needing the kind of one-on-one tutoring he needed when he was just learning the basics of football. The fact that the 49ers gave him that kind of guaranteed money hopefully means he has reached that point.