The new rookie wage scale leaves teams and agents for draft picks few topics about which to haggle. In 2011, teams made up for the overall lack of money paid out at the top of the draft by giving the first 16 players taken (plus the 20th) fully-guaranteed four-year deals.
While the top 16 players likely will get full guarantees in 2012, a new wrinkle has emerged, according to Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange. Teams now want to include so-called “offset” language.
Here’s how it works. If a player has a guaranteed salary of $1 million with offset language and he’s released and signs with a new team for a base salary of $1 million, the first team is off the hook. With no offset language, the player gets $1 million from the first team and $1 million from the new team.
In other words, he gets to double dip.
None of the first eight players taken in the 2012 draft have signed. Pasquarelli writes that “dickering over the offset language is believed to be a factor in all eight cases.”
Working against the teams’ arguments as to the top eight is the fact, as a league source tells PFT, the Panthers gave the ninth pick in the draft — linebacker Luke Kuechly (pictured) — a fully-guaranteed contract with no offset language. So if that’s good enough for No. 9, it should be good enough for the eight taken in front of him. (Of course, the presence of offset language may be the least of Justin Blackmon’s financial worries as the fifth overall pick, given his alleged 0.24-percent blood alcohol concentration.)
Based on information provided to PFT, the 2012 dividing line between the lack of offset language and the presence of it appears to be the ninth and 10th pick. Kuechly’s deal lacks offset language; the contract given by the Bills to cornerback Stephon Gilmore appears to contain it.
And so, while the process has gotten considerably easier after the execution of the new CBA, it’s still not as automatic as some would believe — especially at the top of the draft.