When the rookie wage scale arrived in 2011, the 21st spot in round one became a difficult spot for the Browns and defensive tackle Phil Taylor.
With Bucs defensive end Adrian Clayborn getting four years of fully guaranteed money at the 20th spot and the first-round picks from No. 22 and on getting only three years guaranteed, the Browns and Taylor’s agent eventually came up with a baby-splitting plan that gave Taylor three years of guaranteed salary and that split the fourth-year compensation into a guaranteed base salary and a non-guaranteed roster bonus due early in the 2014 league year.
So the Browns could, in theory, avoid half of Taylor’s fourth-year compensation, but to do so they have to cut him early enough for Taylor to have a full chance to land elsewhere.
The same approach is still used at No. 21. Per a source with knowledge of the contract, the Bengals gave Tyler Eifert three years of fully guaranteed salary, with the fourth-year’s pay is split between a guaranteed base salary of $765,409 and an early roster bonus in the same amount.
Despite the trail blazed by Clayborn in 2011, the 20th overall pick no longer gets a fully-guranteed contract. For more on that dynamic, stay tuned.