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Clausen’s escalator could blaze a new trail for second-round picks

We reported earlier today, via a brief update to the item regarding Jimmy Clausen’s contract with the Panthers, that Clausen’s deal contains a fourth-year escalator worth up to $2.85 million.

A league source with no connection to the Panthers or Clausen’s camp contacted us to point out that the development represents a sea change for second-round contracts.

Previously, players taken in round two simply didn’t get escalator clauses for the fourth year of their contracts.  Even quarterbacks were shut out of the process, notwithstanding the notion that the position entitles them to somewhat different treatment.  With Clausen possibly earning $2.85 million in 2013, it’s possible that the rules will now be different, at least as it relates to quarterbacks.

That said, a rookie wage scale could wipe out all current rules, making the development moot.  Moreover, the reality is that, if Clausen gets enough playing time and production to unlock the bulk of the multi-trigger escalator, he’ll likely get a new contract before the escalator ever is paid.

Making the move even more remarkable is the fact that Carolina G.M. Marty Hurney somehow convinced owner Jerry Richardson, among the hardest of the hard-line, union-busting owners, to agree to break ranks regarding a matter on which the teams had for years been unified.

The league has avoided escalators for second-round picks because the players already get fairly large signing bonuses on contracts with a maximum length of four years.  The teams have been reluctant to give a bunch of extra money in the fourth year of the deal to a guy who could walk away as an unrestricted free agent after cashing the checks.

The uncertainty regarding the future rules relating to free agency likely made the Panthers willing to chance it.  With plenty of league insiders thinking that a five-year path to free agency will be adopted in the next labor deal, the Panthers already may have Clausen’s rights for five years, anyway.

Either way, the team and the player worked diligently to ensure that Clausen would have a chance, unlike big-name quarterbacks who have held out in the past, to actually earn the extra money.  Now, the question becomes whether Clausen can overcome Matt Moore on the depth chart.

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30 Responses to “Clausen’s escalator could blaze a new trail for second-round picks”
  1. robert ethen says: Jul 28, 2010 12:29 PM

    Jimmy was more impressed with the trail blazing “Clausen’s Escalade” in his contract worth about a hundred grand.

  2. mike honcho says: Jul 28, 2010 12:30 PM

    “Clausen’s escalator could blazesa new trail for second-round picks”
    is ‘blazesa’ legalese for “need a better editor?”

  3. mike_311 says: Jul 28, 2010 12:31 PM

    all rookie contracts should have tons of incentives built in, this way the team an cut ties with a crap pick and player that overperform get paid.

  4. clevefan4life says: Jul 28, 2010 12:31 PM

    That’s the way it should be. Anyone who has started a new job as got the line from the employer ‘we’ll evaluate you in 6 months and give you a raise then’. I understand the idea that these guys avg career is 3-4 yrs. But didn’t they all get free rides to the best colleges in the country. A free degree! They shouldn’t taken advantage of that so in case the NFL didn’t work out, they’d have something to fall back on…just saying.

  5. BHindEnemyLines says: Jul 28, 2010 12:31 PM

    Great job on the headline. “Blazesa”.
    Spell check…? Anyone…??? Spell check…??? Hello…???

  6. JJ Nukes says: Jul 28, 2010 12:32 PM

    I hope the kid does well. He has had a lot of pressure since high school.
    His ND teams were not that talented. ND is not a powerhouse football school anymore.
    I think this was a score for Carolina.

  7. KingJoe! says: Jul 28, 2010 12:47 PM

    While I understand it is a QB league, this type of escalator makes more sense in a RB’s contract. The QB’s typically have a much longer career then RB’s. Running backs have 8 good years and they need to make all they can in that time period. I like the idea, but not for QB’s.

  8. FBGeek77 says: Jul 28, 2010 12:47 PM

    “That said, a rookie wage scale could wipe out all current rules, making the development moot. Moreover, the reality is that, if Clausen gets enough playing time and production to unlock the bulk of the multi-trigger escalator, he’ll likely get a new contract before the escalator ever is paid.
    Making the move even more remarkable is the fact that Carolina G.M. Marty Hurney somehow convinced owner Jerry Richardson, among the hardest of the hard-line, union-busting owners, to agree to break ranks regarding a matter on which the teams had for years been unified.”

    I like how the first paragraph tells us why the “move” is totally irrelevant, and then the second says it’s “remarkable”.

  9. Bully Throws Heaters says: Jul 28, 2010 12:50 PM

    Jimmy gets his payday,
    Time for gay pic in Speedo,
    Weis is now erect!

  10. Catamount says: Jul 28, 2010 12:52 PM

    If Moore has a great season, do they sign him to a $8-10 million per season deal with Clausen on the bench? Not their call, because Moore can sign with the highest bidder. This clause will never be realized, because Moore will probably be gone after this season. The panthers have to resign Thomas Davis, Ryan Kalil, DeAngelo Williams, Richard Marshall, (POSSIBLY) Dwayne Jarrett, etc. The Panthers may sign and make a trade (Moore or Clausen) , but it is unlikely that both Clausen and Moore will be on the same roster after this season. Let’s say they lose Moore. They have Tony Pike, Hunter Cantwell, and Clausen for 2011. Not bad.
    So, Clausen will either be the starter for the Panthers or for another team by 2013–or a bust who would be cut or sitting, so the performance $$ is not an issue.

  11. mama tried says: Jul 28, 2010 12:55 PM

    A clause for clausen!!
    Go get ‘em Jimmy Pickle!!

  12. Harm City Homer says: Jul 28, 2010 1:27 PM

    There are not a lot of rules about how a rookie contract has to look, just a bunch of traditions.
    There is no rule that says you have to give the #1 more money than last year, and they eitehr have to sign what you offer or sit out the season and try again next year.
    The teams hold all the cards as it is and if you pick the right player, you never over pay.
    Jamarcus Russell’s money was not problem, teh player was. If it was Joe Thomas or Calvin Johsnon, no one would say anyting about how much they make until they get an extension for top of the market money.

  13. Hugh says: Jul 28, 2010 1:29 PM

    “A league source with no connection to the Panthers or Clausen’s camp…”
    Didn’t I tell you to get a RELIABLE source that actually knows something about the Panthers last night in the TO article?
    Although you may be correct about this information on the Panthers (everyone gets their “first” if they try long enough), you still need to go back to your corner.

  14. lieutenant Dan's Ice Cream says: Jul 28, 2010 1:38 PM

    Carolina will be in the SB in a few years. Clausen went to an ideal situation, he doesn’t have to be the Savior like Bradford or Stafford, and will actually have a solid supporting cast around him.
    If Clausen can keep his ego in check he’ll be the steal of the draft.

  15. downwithdansnyder says: Jul 28, 2010 1:48 PM

    “Now, the question becomes whether Clausen can overcome Matt Moore on the depth chart.”
    You mean when, not whether.

  16. SterilizeTHenry says: Jul 28, 2010 2:05 PM

    First, can people stop talking about Matt Moore? Obviously, if the Panthers thought he was all that, they wouldn’t have taken Clausen. So if his own team doesn’t believe in him, why do you?
    Second, as someone else said, all rookies should have escalators. It sure works better than just dropping guaranteed millions in their lap and telling them to go to work.

  17. SeriousRadio says: Jul 28, 2010 2:11 PM

    I am sure that NFL front offices yawn when they realize that this whole point is moot. Florio writes these posts now and then to try and impress front office types with how ‘smart’ he is. They probably laff that he would even bother to waste any time on a moot issue. There is no story here.

  18. bayou says: Jul 28, 2010 2:20 PM

    Is his escalator inside of his limo or is it the one in the mall? This guy is a freaking premadonna.

  19. CKL says: Jul 28, 2010 2:21 PM

    Sterilize-The Chargers drafted Rivers too and Brees went on to have his best year as a Charger.
    I dont’ view it as the Panthers not believing in him, I view it as they drafted Clausen to hedge their bet in case Moore plays great and they can’t be the highest bidder for him or don’t want to/can’t franchise him. If Moore doesn’t do well and stays there on a low contract (which I don’t see happening, someone will want a young QB with promise even if he doesn’t have a great year (See Anderson, Derek) and even if he gets hurt), then they have a competition or Clausen gets the job by default…next year.

  20. mgracer says: Jul 28, 2010 2:48 PM

    Jimmy did good.

  21. Icantadd says: Jul 28, 2010 3:22 PM

    Speaking of San Diego, I think that’s part of the reason Rivers ended up doing so well; he had a few years to sit back and learn the offense, and by the team he was able to start, the Chargers weren’t the worst team in the league like they had been when they traded for Rivers in the draft. Clausen could end up benefiting in the same way. Even if Moore just plays solid, Clausen could sit for a couple of years while he learns and the Panthers build a better team around him.

  22. fan55 says: Jul 28, 2010 3:42 PM

    How did they get him so cheap!
    Jimmy, get a new agent!

  23. SterilizeTHenry says: Jul 28, 2010 3:43 PM

    Good point CLK. But, I don’t see a non-playoff team like the Panthers using their first draft pick on a player as part of a bet-hedging strategy. They needed to improve their team. Nobody knows Matt Moore better than Carolina. And if they used their first pick on that position, that tells me they don’t have much faith in him going forward. The Drew Brees thing is kind of a fluke. SD had legitimately given up on him when they drafted Rivers…but then something just clicked and he became a beast.
    I don’t think Clausen needs to sit a few years alla Philip Rivers. One of his biggest perks coming out of college was that he started three years in Charlie Wies’ pro-style offense. That means he will be NFL-ready sooner than most rookie QBs.

  24. CKL says: Jul 28, 2010 4:37 PM

    Yes Serilize, true. The nomenclature will be even easier for him too since Davidson was under Weis in NE. BUT…I am a big believer in any young QB

  25. mwcarolina says: Jul 28, 2010 4:37 PM

    Sterilize, i think the Panthers drafted Clausen just in case, Matt Moore fails. In the hope that Moore turns into a Romo or Brees, Clausen sits, if he fails, Clausen plays, that’s why i think it’s a wise move to draft Clausen. First off, Clausen has 1st round talent, people may not like him or agree with me, but i think his arm is similar to Sanchez. The Panthers will give Moore a shot and if they are 3 and 6 and he struggles, Clausen takes over.

  26. mgracer says: Jul 28, 2010 4:39 PM

    Jimmy likes football. Jimmy just wants to play.

  27. CKL says: Jul 28, 2010 4:41 PM

    Yes Sterilize, true. The nomenclature will be even easier for him too since Davidson was under Weis in NE. BUT…I am a big believer in any young QB sitting for at least a year. Even on a team like Carolina that may be competitive.
    Your point on their picking someone to improve their team right away is good but I think that having traded their #1 two years in a row to get specific players they may have been leaning towards BPA. I mean there was no DL who could have helped them where they picked Clausen? Because THAT is a huge need for them. So is (and has been for years) a TRUE #2 WR but they haven’t had much luck there either low or higher lately.

  28. Steve W. says: Jul 28, 2010 4:57 PM

    Sterilize, the Eagles did the same thing when they drafted Kolb. He was a second round pick, but the Eagles first pick in that draft. They were quite happy with McNabb at the time, but drafted Kolb so that they could take their time developing him. As for San Diego, they made the classic mistake…they worried too much about the preconceived notion of what a player’s measurables should be. In this case, Brees’ height.
    As for Clausen, I’m actually rooting for him to be the most successful QB of this draft. I think he got an undeserved bad rap that really hurt his draft stock. I kept hearing about how much potential trouble he was, but apparently he was a bit of a gym rat (which is definitely a good thing), and I never heard of any problems with the law. The whole thing against him is that he’s supposed to have a big ego. Really? A top prospect that was recruited by quite a few big time college programs developed an ego? Shocking! Besides, I seem to remember Peyton Manning telling the Colts that he was going to kick their butt (not the word he used) for the next 15 years if they didn’t draft him with the first overall pick. That sounds a bit cocky to me, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt either his performance or his leadership on the field.

  29. BigAlHeBDMan says: Jul 28, 2010 7:26 PM

    The new name for this type of deal should be
    “Clausen’s Clause”!

  30. suvantar says: Aug 3, 2010 11:36 AM

    As for Clausen, I’m actually rooting for him to be the most successful QB of this draft. I think he got an undeserved bad rap that really hurt his draft stock. I kept hearing about how much potential trouble he was, but apparently he was a bit of a gym rat (which is definitely a good thing), and I never heard of any problems with the law. The whole thing against him is that he’s supposed to have a big ego. Really?
    *******************************************
    He got into a fight at a bar once, apparently defending his girlfriend’s honor or some such. It didn’t sound all that serious, but as far as I know, he was arrested for it.

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