Under the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, players drafted have few issues about which to negotiate. For players taken at the top of the process, the biggest sticking point has emerged in connection with the issue of offset language.
It’s a simple concept. The contracts at the top of the draft are fully guaranteed. With offset language, a team that cuts a player taken at the top of the draft within the four years of his contract receives a dollar-for-dollar credit if/when he lands with a new team. With no offset language, the player gets to double dip, keeping the money he gets under his rookie contract and pocketing whatever he makes elsewhere.
Last year, teams took a hard line (collusion, anyone?) on the offset issue, and the players eventually blinked, in exchange for improved cash flow. Per a source with knowledge of the contract, the first top-10 draft pick who agreed to terms this year — Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack — has offset language in his deal.
In return, Mack will get large chunks of his wages in 2015, 2016, and 2017 via guaranteed roster bonuses paid early in training camp. For 2015, it’s $758,955 on the third day of camp. In 2016, it’s $1.517 million. And for 2017, it’s $2.276 million. This indirectly gives Mack the ability to get paid twice by giving him the bulk of his pay well before the roster reduces to 53 players.
Of course, the roster bonuses will force the team to make a decision about Mack before training camp in each and every year. It becomes even more important for the Raiders to make a decision before training camp in 2017, when $2.276 million of his $2.966 million in pay for the year becomes due on the third day of training camp.
Look for other teams with top-10 picks to once again insist on the use of offset language (collusion, anyone?), with players agreeing to other terms that will get them their cash faster.