Timmons’ deal helps establish precedent

Timmons’ deal helps establish precedent

By John Harris
Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The contract for Steelers first-round draft pick Lawrence Timmons could hasten the number of first-round signings, attorney Drew Rosenhaus predicted.

Timmons’ five-year deal, which includes a signing bonus of just over $8 million and could be worth as much as $15 million, is 19 percent higher than what last year’s No. 15 pick, Tye Hill, received. It also features a unique clause introduced by Rosenhaus that enabled the Steelers to transfer some of the money from Timmons’ base salary into a roster bonus at the end of the season.

Rosenhaus and his business partner and brother, Jason Rosenhaus, employed the strategy following an April ruling involving Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Ashley Lelie that limited the amount of bonus money a team can recoup if a player defaults on his contract.

As a result, Rosenhaus was able to negotiate deals for Timmons, the No. 15 selection who was the highest draft pick to sign, and tight end Greg Olsen, who at No. 31, was the first first-rounder to sign. Two of the first three first-rounders to sign were Rosenhaus clients.

“It’s never been done before,” Rosenhaus said Monday of shifting base salary into a roster bonus. “We did that with both Greg and Lawrence. It was adopted by both of their teams. (San Francisco’s) Joe Staley (the second first-rounder to sign after Olsen) followed our lead on that as well, and I think all first-rounders will.”
In guaranteeing that Timmons would sign before yesterday’s camp deadline, Rosenhaus was forced to establish the market for players taken early in the draft.

“I think we helped establish the top half of the first round with Lawrence. And I think we certainly have established the second half of the first round with Greg. We feel strongly that we can adequately create the market instead of waiting for other people to do it,” Rosenhaus said.

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.