Although the Bears paid a king’s ransom in April to move up one selection in order to draft Mitch Trubisky, it was only this past Wednesday, July 19, when he officially signed his first NFL contract. Even since the new CBA took effect in 2011, negating the possibility of rookie QBs like Sam Bradford signing deals approaching $80,000,000 without ever having played a down of football in the NFL, there’s still some elbow room for star rookies to wiggle around and get the money they deserve after being compensated well below their worth by the NCAA. We all, of course, remember Joey Bosa’s extremely long holdout. And then he only went on to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Trubisky’s contract negotiations didn’t bleed into training camp, thankfully. He’ll be able to report, participate fully, and start learning what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. Of course, it remains to be seen just how much Trubisky will see the field during the Bears’ regular season, if at all. Regardless of whether or not he spends 16 games holding a clipboard on the sidelines, however, one thing is for sure: Trubisky is getting paid. Let’s take a look at how he is getting paid.
All contract numbers per Spotrac
First things first, let’s note that every penny of the $29,032,424 he will earn from the Chicago Bears is fully guaranteed. I’m not privy to any specific language in the contract that states any conditions in which the Bears reserve the right to void his guarantee, which is generally common for rookies with a history of injury or off-the-field issues. Trubisky had neither. So if we look at that contract as rewarding him for past performance, he earned over two million dollars for each game he started at UNC during the 2016 season. Not a bad return.
How does that number compare to other quarterbacks? Well, shock your friends today with this fact: Mitch Trubisky currently has more guaranteed money due to him than Tom Brady ($28m). As another point of comparison, the contract Derek Carr signed earlier this offseason guaranteed him $40m at signing, although more realistically he’ll be guaranteed roughly $70m over the course of his contract. Overall, in terms of guaranteed money, Trubisky ranks 15th among all QBs, outranking the aforementioned Brady as well as Drew Brees, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, and last year’s big QB selection, Jared Goff.
How does it compare to his fellow Bears? Well, he’s number one. Easily. In fact, second place is over ten million dollars behind him! And who is that in second place? Why, it’s the person he’s set to be learning from: former NC State QB Mike Glennon, currently guaranteed $18.5m from the Bears. The rest of the top five is offensive lineman Kyle Long ($18m), wide receiver Kevin White ($16.5m), and linebacker Pernell McPhee ($15.5m). Wait a second...maybe there’s a reason the Bears had the #3 overall pick going into this year’s draft.
So how does Trubisky’s contract actually work? Well, technically, his base salary this year is a paltry $465,000. Oh, to work in an industry where an annual salary of nearly half a million dollars can be described as “paltry.” As it turns out, roughly $19m of Trubisky’s salary is split up into a signing bonus across four years, the remnants of which would be paid to him as a lump sum were he to be cut at any time for any reason. That base salary increases to about $1.8m in 2018, $3.1m in 2019, and $4.4m in 2020.
How much of the Bears’ salary cap is committed to Trubisky right now? If we add up Trubisky’s yearly signing bonus and his base salary, we get a “cap hit” (the amount of space a team has dedicated to a player within their salary cap) of $5,278,622. That’s good for 10th on the Bears, with Glennon #1 with a cap hit of $14m. It’s 29th among quarterbacks, slotting him nicely between Brian Hoyer and Carson Wentz (Joe Flacco is #1 at $24.5m). So although he’s due a pretty significant amount of money overall, he provides good value in relation to the salary cap.
How long is Chicago committed to Trubisky? Although so far we’ve been talking about a four-year deal, the Bears actually hold the right to option him for a fifth year, the terms of which would be determined at the time. Should the Bears decide to do that, he would become a free agent in 2022, but if they don’t he would become a free agent in 2021, the earliest he could do so without being cut or waived. The Bears are unlikely to cut him, as his contract is fully guaranteed. And it’s folly to speculate whether or not the Bears will trade a player who hasn’t yet played a down of football for them. That option does, however, remain open, as no-trade clauses are extremely rare in the NFL, as opposed to the NBA.
Isn’t it nice to get paid millions of dollars to play professional football? Trubisky achieved the dream. Hopefully he can give the Bears good value for what they’re investing in him.