Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers signed a massive 5-year, $170 million contract extension on September 8, 2023, making him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL (National Football League).1 One day later on September 9, 2023, Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals signed a 5-year, $275 million contract making him not only the highest paid offensive player, but the highest paid NFL player to date.2 Interestingly enough, both these players have the same agent, Brian Ayrault.3 Ayrault has been an NFLPA-certified agent for almost 2 decades.4 He is one of the most recognizable names amongst NFL agents.5
Contract negotiation is an important and integral part of sports contracts. As we know, contract negotiating is the process in which two or more parties deliberate off a set of terms within a contract to reach an agreement on what will be carried out in the future. Per business associations, the sports agent negotiates on the player’s behalf in good faith, for what will be best for them. Agency is a relationship between a principal (the athlete) and the agent. The agent has the authority to act on behalf of the principal. It defines the scope of services to be provided, the commission rate, the duration of the contract, and other vital details. Negotiating a contract is a hybrid legal and business function. Because agents negotiate the deal for the athletes, they do in part receive a percentage of the contract that they have negotiated for the athletes.
NFL players have the choice between representing themselves and having an agent. If they choose to have an agent, the agent receives between 4-15%. Contracts negotiated by agents in the NFL are not actually binding to the team. A player is not guaranteed all the money they are promised when they sign a deal, only the amount that is guaranteed in the season being played. The main reason NFL contracts are not guaranteed comes down to the legal issues of money, and what the team can do with their allowance. Contract extensions have certain windows that they can take place in. For all draft choices, contract extensions cannot be negotiated until the conclusion of the player’s third NFL regular season. Draftees are known as rookies so essentially these rookies are locked with the team for three or four seasons, and after they can either extend their time with the team with an extension contract or go into free agency and try to be picked up by another team.
Breaking these massive deals down, Nick Bosa is now under contract with the 49ers through the 2029 season with an estimated $88 million guaranteed.6 With this, the 49ers now have $41.5 million in cap space available to work with.7 Bosa had an explosive season last year, and in his career has been named NFL defensive rookie of the year, and in three of his four seasons made pro bowls, Last year, Bosa made first team all pro for the first time.8
Burrow is beginning his fourth year in the NFL this year and has completely changed around the Bengals franchise. He has led the team to 2 AFC North titles and a Super Bowl appearance.9 Within the last 5 years, Burrow has really made a name for himself. In 2019, Burrow led LSU to win a national championship, which made him a top prospect for the 2020 draft. In 2021, his second year in the NFL, Burrow led the Bengals to an AFC championship game. Since then, the Bengals have appeared in another AFC championship game and a Super Bowl.
Both players became eligible for contract extensions as Bosa is entering his fourth season in the NFL and Burrow is entering his third season in the NFL.