Malik Jackson signed a $90 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars after helping the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 50.
The next step? Earning every cent of his mega deal.
“It’s all written out and you earned it, but at the same time you have to go out there and earn it,” Jackson said, via ESPN. “They don’t give you 90 [million dollars] today. It’s not like basketball where I can get it all guaranteed. I still have to go out there. You still have to play. I have to go earn all of it. It’s six years, 42-45 [million dollars] guaranteed. I want 90 of it. I want all 90. So I have six years to go out there and earn it.”
Jackson, a former fifth-round pick of the Broncos, entered the open market as arguably the top free agent available. The $90 million deal he signed with the Jaguars made him one of the highest paid defensive players in NFL history.
But as Jackson knows, NFL contracts have reported value and real value—and the vast majority of players don’t reach the end of the deals they signed. Without fully guaranteed contracts, teams often get out of deals once the cap hit gets too high and the savings become too tempting.
Case in point: The Jaguars can save over $9 million by releasing Jackson in 2018, when his cap hit rises to $15.5 million and the associated dead money charge drops to only $6 million. In 2019, the potential savings hit $11 million. By 2021, the Jaguars can release Jackson without a single cent counting on the team’s salary cap.
Jackson will earn over $40 million in guaranteed money, including a $10 million signing bonus and his base salaries in both 2016 and 2017. But he’ll have to work for every dollar by the third year of his deal.
He understands the process.
“Anything that’s given to you can be taken away from you at any time,” Jackson said. “So just have to go out there and do my best and earn all $90 (million). To say at the end of the sixth year, I’d like to say I earned all 90. I think that’ll be the biggest accomplishment.”
There are many ways to justify a mega contract. Stats, Pro Bowls and championships all help. But playing out the entire deal might be the most rewarding. If Jackson survives all six years of his contract, he’ll have rightfully earned all $90 million.