NFLPA attorney says Seahawks redo Jones' deal

Updated: March 20, 2006, 3:27 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Seahawks have apparently maneuvered themselves into position to keep All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson, an attorney for the NFL's players' union said Monday.

Hutchinson's contract was the subject of a hearing in Philadelphia where a special master was to decide how much of the Minnesota Vikings' offer the Seahawks must match to keep Hutchinson, considered a key to Seattle's run to the Super Bowl this year.

The Vikings seven-year offer included $16 million guaranteed and would be the richest deal ever given to a guard.

But the contract also contained a provision that would guarantee the entire $49 million if Hutchinson is not the team's highest-paid offensive lineman at any time after the first year of the contract. The league and the Seahawks argued on Monday that Seattle didn't have to match that provision.

But Richard Berthelsen, an attorney for the NFL Players Association who attended the hearing, told The Associated Press that the Seahawks told the special master on Monday that the team had restructured the contract of six-time Pro Bowl tackle Walter Jones, currently Seattle's highest-paid offensive linemen, to avoid the conflict.

Jones received $54.5 million -- with up to $20 million in a signing bonus and incentives -- over seven years to remain a Seahawk last April.

Berthelsen said the Seahawks told the special master that Jones had agreed to add an eighth, voidable year to his deal. That would mean Jones' annual base salary would dip to $6.81 million -- just below Hutchinson's $7 million annual average if Seattle matched Minnesota's offer. Thus, the Seahawks would not have to guarantee the rest of Hutchinson's new deal.

The Seahawks did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press