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Offset language definitely an issue for the top eight picks

Minnesota Vikings Minicamp Getty Images

The momentum in rookie signings that at one point spawned predictions of all deals being done by Memorial Day largely has disappeared, particularly in round one.

The main reason for the unsigned picks at the top of the process was and continues to be an obscure question regarding whether and to what extent a player will receive the balance of his fully-guaranteed salary even if he’s cut before the four-year contract ends and he signs with a new team.

Last year, only quarterback Cam Newton, the first overall pick in the draft, completely escaped the offset language that prevents double-dipping.  This year, only Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechley, the ninth overall pick in round one, has avoided the offset language entirely.

As first reported by Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange, that’s pushing the agents for the octet of players taken in front of Kuechley, like Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil (I had mention one of them to justify the photo), to argue for similar treatment — especially since four of the guys taken in the first eight picks are represented by CAA, the same firm that handles Kuechley.

Via communications with multiple sources having direct knowledge of the negotiations, PFT has confirmed that it’s definitely an issue.

But should it be?

On one hand, the players shouldn’t be clamoring for the ability to get paid twice.  There’s something about the expectation that seems inherently unfair and unseemly.  If a guy performs badly enough that he’s cut within four years by the team that made him a top-10 pick, he shouldn’t expect money for nothing if someone else is willing to pay all or part of what he would have gotten if he hadn’t been cut — or if he hadn’t been signed by a new team.

On the other hand, players at the top of the draft now get peanuts in comparison to what they used to receive.  So why not guarantee the full amount of their contracts, even if they are cut and sign elsewhere?

There’s also a concern that, as teams pushed last year to get deals done after the lockout ended and as players anxious to get to work agreed to whatever language was included the rookie contracts, issues like the offset language weren’t properly fleshed out.

Actually, some players should prefer the absence of offset language.  If the team that drafted a top-10 talent no longer wants him but will still pay his full contract even if he’s not on the team — and if he’ll also get paid more money if he signs with a new team — the player could get the Marcus Allen treatment, paid good money to stand around and watch games.

Either way, it’s a small issue that in the grand scheme of things should be resolved quickly.  Though it’s not keeping any players away from offseason workouts (since rookie draft picks routinely participate without contracts), it shouldn’t cause any player to miss a single day of training-camp practice.

By next month, we’ll know whether it does.

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11 Responses to “Offset language definitely an issue for the top eight picks”
  1. thegreatgabbert says: Jun 11, 2012 1:36 PM

    Don’t be using that offset language around here, young man.

  2. gafraidh says: Jun 11, 2012 1:48 PM

    “On the other hand, players at the top of the draft now get peanuts in comparison to what they used to receive. So why not guarantee the full amount of their contracts, even if they are cut and sign elsewhere?”

    A bit of a flawed argument. I would suggest that what they used to receive had reached the point of exorbitant, and therefore not a fair reference.

    That said, we might find out that CAA has created some headaches in a few front offices.

  3. cowboyhater says: Jun 11, 2012 1:50 PM

    Didn’t Irsay tweet a few weeks ago that the Colts were close to signing Luck? Just sign Luck to a guaranteed contract and move on, to allow the rest of us to get our players signed!

  4. godofwine330 says: Jun 11, 2012 1:52 PM

    Someone please explain the “Marcus Allen treatment.” I believe that is when Allen fell out of favor with Al Davis and Davis reused to let the coaches play him I guess during the ’92 season -(he is in the HOF after only three 1,000 yard seasons in 16 years).

  5. delmonte55 says: Jun 11, 2012 1:56 PM

    Hey it is free enterprise. Short career time…get the money while you can!

  6. Deb says: Jun 11, 2012 2:27 PM

    Thanks for the update. That explains the holdup with the top eight picks. But what’s happening with the logjam from 22-26? Is offset language an issue for those guys as well, or are they tussling over money? Looking at the salaries for the signings just before Weeden and those following Mercilus, it seems that group would just fall into place. Is the problem with the Oklahoma State QB at 22, or with WR Kendall Wright, still unsigned at #20?

    I’d just like to get #24 DeCastro signed, and he’s unlikely to move until those ahead of him do. It’s like a weird traffic jam.

  7. jakek2 says: Jun 11, 2012 2:28 PM

    “Fully guaranteed” just doesn’t mean what it used to.

  8. marthisdil says: Jun 11, 2012 2:45 PM

    Or, how about these guys be forced to prove they are worth the money. Just like the rest of us, if we suck at our jobs, we get fired without a bunch of money falling on us (executives are an exception).

    Hope they all suck, get cut, and no one else picks them up.

  9. thraiderskin says: Jun 11, 2012 2:47 PM

    “Hey it is free enterprise. Short career time…get the money while you can!”

    says the guy who will be crying when he can’t afford a game-ticket due to massivley overpaid employees.

  10. spartan822 says: Jun 11, 2012 2:58 PM

    It sounds like what you’re saying is that the Panthers front office is screwing up the rookie contracts for the rest of the league.

  11. jakek2 says: Jun 11, 2012 3:30 PM

    marthisdil says:
    Jun 11, 2012 2:45 PM
    Or, how about these guys be forced to prove they are worth the money. Just like the rest of us, if we suck at our jobs, we get fired without a bunch of money falling on us (executives are an exception).

    Hope they all suck, get cut, and no one else picks them up.
    ——————–
    If you had a talent that one in a million other people had and that someone was willing to “fully guarantee” your salary simply for signing on the dotted line, you’d expect your fully guaranteed salary if that employer canned your rear end 2 years down the road for a cheaper alternative….wouldn’t you?

    Also….cut it out with comparing yourself and the real world to NFL players. They have real, unique skills. An employer can probably throw a dart blindly and hit someone that can perform your job. Making such comparisons makes you sound like sour grapes.

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