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