RUGBY LEAGUE: He's signed a historic deal but Jason Taumalolo may just have cost himself $5 million, according to former Cowboys director Ben Ikin.
Ikin is a huge fan of last year's Dally M Medal winner and can see a time in the not too distant future when the power forward could conceivably be worth $2million a year.
Clearly a figure like that would be dependant upon further salary cap increases and probably a desperate club trying to get off the bottom of the ladder, but according to Ikin the multi-million dollar deal taking Ben Hunt to the Dragons is proof of what's possible.
Taumalolo's landmark 10-year deal with the Cowboys is the longest in NRL history, guaranteeing the 23-year-old will bank $10 million in the next decade.
But a deal structured differently or a decision to sign shorter deals of increasing value over the course of his career would likely have seen him retire $5 million wealthier.
"These 10-year $10 million deals are so two years ago,” Ikin told foxsports.com.au, referencing Daly Cherry-Evans' deal with Manly.
"I thought Taumalolo's next contract would have been in the vicinity of $1.5 million a year.
"He's the best power forward in the game, who can punch out 80 minutes if required, whose hit-up in the 73rd minute is as good as his hit-up in the third minute and he's just come off a Dally M Medal win.
"Knowing there'll be a club at some point in the future with a stack of space in their salary cap ready to spend big on the NRL's best forward, you could make a case that Taumalolo has cost himself some significant money.
"This new deal, if Jason Taumalolo continues to improve, represents great value for the Cowboys.”
It comes as a surprise then that Cowboys coach Paul Green revealed during the press conference unveiling Taumalolo's re-signing that the 10-year deal was suggested by Taumalolo's management, rather than the club.
"It took us by surprise,” Green said.
"But when we sat down and looked at it, the club did some pretty extensive analysis on it. There's risks for both parties but I think the upside clearly outweighs those risks.
"All of the management and the club looked very closely at the pros and cons but when we weighed it all up we felt the positives far outweighed the negatives.”
With the salary cap expected to be about the $10 million mark for next season and beyond when it's finally signed off by the NRL, the Taumalolo signing leaves the Cowboys with 90 per cent of their cap money to spread around the rest of their top 25.
That's a huge coup for the club, giving them plenty of money to retain Johnathan Thurston as their next priority, before likely having to make some choices about the forwards to invest in to complement Taumalolo in their next generation pack.
"It definitely gives us stability,” Green said.
"He's a key player in the game, he's a key player at our club and I think having that long-term future secured for him allows us to plan long-term and build a team around him.”
That may or may not include Matt Scott, who has said publicly he is open to finishing his career away from Townsville and will field offers from Newcastle and others.
Gavin Cooper is another of the club's prized veterans coming off contract with 26-year-old Ethan Lowe and rising star Coen Hess both coming off contract at the end of next season.
Taumalolo's re-signing is the second coup this week for the Cowboys after they prised Jordan McLean away from the Storm on a three-year deal that wouldn't have come cheap.
It all adds up to an exciting time for a club attempting to build a premiership team of the future while staying in contention in the now.
"Pretty excited but I think I'm more excited about the opportunities ahead and playing alongside some future generation players in Hessy (Coen Hess) and obviously Gideon (Gela-Mosby) coming through to make his debut this week and it will be exciting to see players like that grow and eventually fulfil their potential,” Taumalolo said.
"The Cowboys are my priority and I've started my journey here and I'll finish it here too.”