At a time when few impediments exist to negotiating rookie contracts, the Dolphins are expected to once again dig in their heels at the top of round one.
Last year, the Dolphins stubbornly refused to drop offset language from the contract eventually signed by quarterback Ryan Tannenhill, the eighth overall pick in the draft. Miami won the stare down even though the next player taken, Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 9, got a fully-guaranteed rookie contract without offset language.
This year, the Dolphins traded up from No. 12 to No. 3, selecting defensive end Dion Jordan. At No. 12, insisting on offset language would have been a no-brainer; at No. 3, it’s presumed that the player will get the full amount of his rookie deal even if he’s cut and signs with another team.
But the Dolphins have shown no inclination to let a player double dip. The contract given to free-agent receiver Mike Wallace, for example, includes offset language for his guaranteed money. Even though Wallace had all the leverage in the negotiations aimed at making the Dolphins better, selling tickets, and erasing the perception that players choose not to go to Miami.
Still, it’s far more common for veteran players to have offset language in their deals. At No. 3, it’s hard to argue that the guaranteed money on a contract made dramatically lower as a result of the 2011 rookie wage scale should be reduced if the player is released and gets a job elsewhere.
The Dolphins likely will dig in because they can. And it’s hard for a player, who in the months after being selected can’t comprehend the possibility of being a bust, insisting on a term that will provide him with protection only if he is. It’s highly unlikely that the Dolphins would cut Jordan before his four-year deal expires; from Jordan’s perspective, the possibility is nearly inconceivable.
If that ends up being the last issue keeping Jordan from agreeing to terms and Jordan wants to get to training camp so that his potential can start to become production, look for Jordan to do at No. 3 the same thing Tannehill did in 2012 at No. 8.