The lunch-hour news that the Vikings had agreed to terms with fourth overall pick Matt Kalil and that the Chiefs worked out a contract with 11th overall selection Dontari Poe leaves three unsigned rookies in round one.
So what’s the holdup for the final three round-one holdouts?
It’s widely believed that the post-draft DUI arrest of Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon, the fifth overall pick, has prompted the team to seek protections. And the protections are possibly more extensive than inserting “offset” language that would reduce on a dollar-for-dollar basis his guaranteed money if Blackmon eventually is cut and signs elsewhere. Our guess (and it’s just a guess at this point) is that the Jaguars also want to be able to wipe out significant chunks of guaranteed money in the event of another incident, which would make offsets irrelevant. If he gets in trouble again, he could be cut and not owed another dime.
For the eighth overall pick, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the battle lines continue to be drawn at the offset language. It’s reasonable for Tannehill to want it; if he’s a bust and if there’s another new coach within the next four years, Tannehill could get the boot. The Dolphins, we’ve been told, are taking a hard line in part because the employee negotiating the contract, Dawn Aponte, once worked for the league’s management council, which is believed to be pushing teams not to budge on the offset issues. (For most of the top 10 picks, that strategy has yet to work.)
Finally, the 20th overall pick, Titans receiver Kendall Wright, lands in the so-called Clayborn slot. As we explained back on May 12, Bucs defensive end Adrian Clayborn received a fully-guaranteed deal by signing before anyone else in round one. Several guys taken ahead of him didn’t get the full four years guaranteed. The Titans surely want to correct last season’s anomaly; Wright possibly wants the same deal Clayborn received. (The fact that Kenny Britt will start camp on the PUP list gives Wright a little extra leverage.)
Although Blackmon’s situation could get dicey, there’s no good reason for Tannehill and Wright to be unsigned. All of the deals eventually will get done; though not unprecedented (Ryan Sims, Bryant McKinnie, JaMarcus Russell, and Michael Crabtree come to mind), it’s rare that a first-round holdout lasts into the regular season.