The linebacker’s 2015 base salary will be worth $1MM, followed by base salaries of $5.25M (2016), $5.75M (2017), $6.25M (2018) and $6.75 (2019). The 2016 and 2017 salaries are only guaranteed for injury, but the years will become fully-guaranteed on the third day of the league year.
THURSDAY, 12:35pm: Levy’s deal, which is now official, will be worth $33.72MM over four years, with $20MM in guaranteed money, tweets Rapoport. It’s unlikely that the whole $20MM will be fully guaranteed at signing, but the annual average on the contract is $8.43MM, making Levy the highest-paid 4-3 outside linebacker in the league by a comfortable margin.
WEDNESDAY, 1:40pm: Levy’s extension will be for four years, according to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (via Twitter).
1:25pm: The Lions have reached an agreement on a contract extension for linebacker DeAndre Levy, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Locking up Levy to a long-term deal had been a priority this offseason for general manager Martin Mayhew, who said this week that he has also been in discussions about a new contract for Haloti Ngata.
Levy, 28, has developed into one of the Lions’ most important players on either side of the ball since joining the franchise in 2009 as a third-round draft pick. In 2014, he established a new career high in tackles, racking up 155 stops to go along with 2.5 sacks, five passes defended, and an interception.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), only one 4-3 outside linebacker played more snaps last season than Levy’s 1,072, and only two players at the position received better grades from PFF than the standout Lion. Levy performance was particularly strong against the run, earning him a +21.1 grade in that category.
While Bobby Wagner‘s new contract with the Seahawks, worth $43MM over four years, may have paved the way for the Lions to get something done with Levy, it would be a little surprising if he matched or exceeded Wagner’s per-year salary of $10.75MM. Middle linebackers like Wagner are typically paid better than 4-3 outside linebackers like Levy.
According to Over The Cap’s data, the top contract for an outside linebacker on a 4-3 team belongs to another Seahawk, K.J. Wright, who is earning $27MM over four years, for an average of $6.75MM per season. Levy should easily exceed that figure, though it remains to be seen if he’ll be paid like a top inside linebacker — I expect he will.
With Levy’s contract agreed to, the Lions can focus on locking up Ngata, which will be a priority for a defense that lost Ndamukong Suh earlier in the offseason. Like Levy, Ngata is entering the final year of his contract, and is on track to earn a salary of $8.5MM in 2015. Levy had been set to earn just $3.5MM, though he’ll likely make much more than that now, assuming his new deal includes even a modest signing bonus.
The Buccaneers also figure to be keeping a close eye on the details for Levy’s extension, since they have a similar player – Lavonte David – eligible for a new deal of his own. Since David is nearly three years younger than Levy, he may land an even bigger contract when the Bucs are ready to finalize something with him.