A look at the most infamous contracts in Minnesota sports history

In honor of Bobby Bonilla day, which contracts didn't live up to the hype?
Publish date:

July 1 is a special day in the sports world and it's not because it's Canada Day. Bobby Bonilla checked his bank account and likely saw a $1.19 million deposit from the New York Mets, which is a sweet deal considering Bonilla hasn't been with the Mets for 21 years. 

That's because when the Mets decided to buy out Bonilla's contract prior to the 2000 season, they opted to give Bonilla 25 years of payments with eight percent interest rather than give him a one-time $5.9 million buyout. Do the math and Bonilla will collect $32.1 million by the time the payments are complete.

Such a bad contract got us at Bring Me The News thinking. What are some of the bad deals Minnesota sports have seen over the years and how did they affect their teams?

Kevin Garnett's first extension (1997)

Leave it to the Timberwolves to have a large presence on this list, but aside from bad free agency signings (shout out to Butch Huskey), Garnett's contract was one of the first infamous deals the state has seen.

With free-agent deals starting to creep toward the $100 million mark in recent contracts, Garnett and the Timberwolves broke the bank with a six-year, $126 million extension prior to the 1997-98 season. The move was a solid one to keep Garnett in a Timberwolves jersey, but it set off a can of worms across the league.

As icing on the cake, the deal made Stephon Marbury jealous causing the breakup of what could have been one of the most entertaining duos in league history.

Joe Smith's "Under-the-table" deal (1999)

Another side effect of Garnett's contract was the limitations the Wolves had in signing players around him. Because of that, the Timberwolves struck a deal that saw Smith sign a one-year contract for $1.75 million. 

According to USA Today's For The Win, Smith agreed to sign a series of three one-year deals in order to create cap flexibility, but the plan went for naught when he left his agent and released all of the documents in the agreement.

NBA Commissioner David Stern unleashed his fury on the Timberwolves, fining them $3.5 million and docking them five first-round picks, which effectively wasted the KG era in Minnesota. As for Smith, he averaged 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in four seasons in Minnesota. Worth it.

Steve Hutchinson's "Poison Pill" (2006)

In the Vikings' never-ending search to find a guard, they stopped at the door of Hutchinson prior to the 2006 season. While the Vikings were interested in signing the future Hall of Famer, the Seahawks had placed a transition tag on Hutchinson, forcing him into a one-year deal.

This led the Vikings to get creative and create the poison pill contract. The clause stated that if Hutchinson was not the highest-paid lineman on his team, the entire $49 million contract would become guaranteed, creating a nightmarish salary cap mess.

The Seahawks obviously declined and Hutchinson went on to his Canton-worthy career with the Vikings. Although the Seahawks tried the same thing with Nate Burleson, the deal didn't have the same effect and the "poison pill" became illegal in 2012.

Mark Parrish's buyout (2008)

In the same spirit of the Bonilla deal, Parrish hit the lottery after his homecoming with the Wild didn't go as planned. After signing a five-year contract prior to the 2006-07 season, Parrish scored 35 goals and 69 points in 142 games before General Manager Doug Riesbrough released him with three years remaining on the deal.

As part of the buyout, Parrish spread out the remaining $5.6 million over the next six years with annual payments of $927,000. That left Parrish on the Wild payroll until 2014. 

Joe Mauer's hometown discount (2010)

In the 2009 season, Mauer had arrived as the face of the Twins. In an MVP season that saw him explode for 28 home runs, his looming free agency after the 2010 season became an issue as big market teams like Boston and New York would come calling for the All-Star catcher.

Just when it seemed like the Twins would tighten the purse strings despite the opening of Target Field, the two sides struck a deal during that year's spring training with Mauer taking home an eight-year, $184 million extension.

Mauer's career since is a polarizing topic between Twins fans as he would hit under eight home runs per season after the deal and wouldn't win another batting title. Mauer would have his No. 7 retired by the Twins after his decision to walk away in 2018.

Zach Parise & Ryan Suter's matching deals (2012)

As Chuck Fletcher tried to put his stamp on the Wild, he still needed to add the big superstar the team had been missing since Marian Gaborik departed. With Parise and Suter having Midwest ties, they seemed like logical targets to come home and Fletcher reeled them in with matching 13-year contracts on Independence Day 2012.

Even though the fireworks shot through the sky in celebration that night, the results on the ice haven't been there. The Wild initially went to the playoffs in each of the first six seasons of the deal, but never advanced past the second round.

As both players head into their late 30s, they have six years remaining on the deals, and Parise was even mentioned in trade discussions at last year's deadline.

Kirk Cousins' fully guaranteed deal (2018)

Contracts in the NFL are notorious for being on a year-to-year basis and when Cousins hit free agency prior to the 2018 season, he was dead set on changing that idea for quarterbacks.

With the Vikings in desperate need for a quarterback, they offered Cousins a three-year, $84 million deal. The contract was also the first fully guaranteed contract in NFL history, but that hasn't guaranteed success on the field.

After a rocky 2018 and a solid 2019 season, Cousins cashed in again with a fully guaranteed two-year deal that was done to create cap space. As the Vikings remain pressed up against the cap, Cousins' contract will continue to hang over the team until they reach the Super Bowl.

Next Up

u.s. district court minnesota - federal court minneapolis

Limits on in-person court activity extended for 45 days

The statewide order extends current limitations through March 15.

D'Angelo Russell / Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves need more from D'Angelo Russell

The Wolves haven't gotten what they expected since making a blockbuster trade.

oct. 20 snow crash

Spinouts, crashes still happening after snow leaves MN roads a mess

The snow storm caused at least 208 crashes this weekend.


For The Week: Food tips and tricks to get you through the next 7 days

BMTN's food writer Lindsay Guentzel makes life easier for Minnesotans.

snow, plow

Here's how much snow fell in Saturday's storm in Minnesota

MSP Airport had the highest total as of 7 a.m. Sunday with 5.3 inches.

Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 3.17.49 PM

No KAT? No D'Lo? No problem as Timberwolves defeat Pelicans

The Timberwolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, but still picked up a (SCORE) win.

Screen Shot 2021-01-23 at 7.53.44 PM

Spinouts, crashes across Twin Cities as snow gets heavier

There have been multiple incidents across the metro area.

Mason Branstrator

Family, friends raising funds for teen soccer standout with spinal injury

Mason Branstrator of Duluth was injured in a skiing accident.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 9.08.16 PM

Tributes pour in after MN Supreme Court justice's daughter found dead

Olivia Chutich died near the campus of Iowa State University.

Image from iOS (96)

Early Saturday fire damages Burger King in Richfield

The fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. Saturday.


Kirk Cousins

New Year's hopes for Minnesota sports teams in 2020

2019 was a year filled with excitement and disappointment, but what will 2020 bring?

Metrodome collapse

Ranking the most 'Minnesota Sports' seasons of all-time.

Expectations. Heartbreak. Disappointment. Repeat.

Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer apparently doesn't know what Kirk Cousins' contract situation is

Cousins' contract ends after next season, but his head coach is currently unaware.

Kirby Puckett statue

Ranking the 10 best players in Minnesota Twins history

From Killebrew to Mauer, the Twins have had some greats come through Minnesota.

Kirk Cousins

Report: Cousins new contract eliminated no-trade clause

The Vikings also re-signed C.J. Ham and Britton Colquitt.

Target Field

Gov. Walz open to allowing professional sports in Minnesota

The Twins and Wild would like to have games played in the state.