Los Angeles Chargers Award Record-Breaking Contract to 2nd-Round Rookie

Credit: Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

The drama around rookie contracts has become a thing of the past. Through the various collective bargaining agreements, there isn’t much work for agents and front offices to do around paying the team’s newly drafted players. The Los Angeles Chargers have taken this to the next step.

If there is one area within NFL contract negotiations that is the most contentious, it’s guaranteed money. It has become more player-friendly over the last few seasons, but by and large, it just isn’t done, and when it is, it is noteworthy.

Ian Rapoport reported on Monday that the Los Angeles Chargers reached a 4-year deal with the most guaranteed money in NFL history for a 34th pick with Ladd McConkey, the wide receiver from Georgia.

Los Angeles Chargers Agree To Historic Deal With Ladd McConkey

McConkey’s exact contract details have not been released, but his four-year contract on its face will be worth around $10 million. Rapoport also included that McConkey’s guarantees exceeded that of “the QB premium for the same pick in ‘23.”

Will Levis, the second pick in the second round of the 2023 draft (not technically the 34th pick), received a total of $4,791,205 in guaranteed, getting $750k of that in his first season. The top receiver in this year’s draft, Marvin Harrison Jr, earned $12.8 million in guarantees. And Keon Coleman, who was drafted right before McConkey (33rd) received $5.5 million.

*Contract numbers provided by Over the Cap

Have the Los Angeles Chargers Bought into Harbaugh’s Vision?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Minicamp
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This reveals two things about the Chargers;

1.) They really believe in McConkey. They believe McConkey will make the leap and become an instant and high-level contributor. All teams will say that about a pick in the 30’s, but they put money into the platitudes. Bucking the trend around guaranteed money in the NFL puts a finer point to this argument. Not to mention the fact that they traded a fourth-round pick to select him.

2.)It also shows that the Chargers’ Brass is (currently) bought into Jim Harbaugh’s vision for this team. The Spanos family has been seen as cheap and meddling. This shows they are (for now) allowing the general manager and head coach to build this team how they want it built.

This also shows that, for the first time in his coaching career, Jim Harbaugh may be prioritizing wide receivers. One major debate this offseason has been whether Harbaugh will lean into the passing game because he finally has an elite quarterback or will he and Greg Roman remain the run-happy team they have always been. Securing a WR points toward the former.

Although passing on Rome Odunze and Malik Nabers in favor of an offensive tackle may dash that argument completely.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Minicamp
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports