Offset language is likely a dead issue


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.

26 responses to “Offset language is likely a dead issue

  1. Someone has a good idea and others copying it does not make it collusion.

    None of the guys who sign paychecks not liking a contract issue does not make it collusion.

    Is it collusion that many of them are trying to win a championship? It must be if more than one team is trying to do it.

  2. I don’t understand why this is an issue. WIthout offset language, a bust will make more money than a pro-bowl player, and the worse a bust is, the more he will make.

    He is guaranteed x number of dollars his first four years. Why should he get more if he sucks so back the drafting team cut him?

    Offset language in N/A for any player who plays well enough that he doesn’t get cut by the drafting team. It just doesn’t apply.

    Any player who insists on not having offset language is basically saying, “I don’t think I can compete and you guys are going to cut me before I finish this contract, so if you cut me because I suck, I want to keep any money I get from my second team PLUS I want you to pay me my entire original contract.”

    Oh, yeah, and if the second team cuts me, so much the better, ’cause then I can collect from three teams while sucking.

  3. So the NFL got reduced rookie deals but they also want their money back if they pick wrong too? If I was picked high I would never sign a deal with offset language too many issues with teams having bad front offices and coaches at the top of the draft. Some of the teams that pick high constantly, like my Jags, have unstable situations in the front office. Take Bortles for instance – let’s say Caldwell and Bradley don’t get the job done in the next 2 years and new guys are brought in and they want to go in a different direction at QB – is it Bortles fault if he is cut? Gabbert was horrible but he had 3 head coaches and 2 GM’s in his 3 years here – if he was cut and picked up somewhere else he should have to give back some money? No way would I ever sign a deal with offset language.

  4. Only language fans want to hear from ANY of these guys: “we’re thankful for the opportunity to play professional football and will give an effort worthy of the wage we are paid to do so.”

  5. These players aren’t too bright. Agreeing to this last bargaining agreement is about as smart as taking out a payday loan every week for the 9 year term of the deal.

  6. with no offset language a player gets to sign with a new team and double dip. Example: Eli Manning never gets traded and tanks 2 seasons with SD, gets cut and gets paid from SD and then (for instance) NYG.


  7. For those against remember this is supposed to be a guaranteed contract; an offset means the contract is no longer fully guaranteed.

  8. ssraebel, I don’t think that you get it.

    Offset language does not stop you from getting paid. Rookie contracts are guaranteed even after they’re cut. Their overall pay is not even reduced below their initial (slotted wage scale) contract even if you sign on with a new team. That means no matter how bad you play, if you’re the fifth pick overall you’re going to get paid like the fifth pick overall. (I could argue against this too, but that is the concession that the NFLPA bargained for in exchange for the lower prearranged salaries.)

    It stops your PREVIOUS employer from having to pay you the AMOUNT that you are getting to work for THEIR COMPETITION. I don’t know how it works where you’re employed, but this makes sense to me.

    As mentioned by Noel Thomas and notthetroll, without offset language keeping players pay relative to their slotted draft position, you are giving opportunities to players to play themselves off of rosters (keeping their fully guaranteed monies) and then sign on with another team and double dipping. This doesn’t smell right in the capitalistic economy in which we live.

    btw, I think the author of this article is being remiss by neglecting to mention how the Miami Dolphins have been the LEADERS OF THE OFFSET LANGUAGE clause in their rookie contracts since the most recent CBA was established.

  9. It is not collusion if people notice a viable strategy and implement it themselves. Collusion would be that they all had some secret meeting and agreed on the same actions before doing them. Not likely.

  10. as far as raiders making their decision….they already pretty much did that at #5 when the draft gods above allowed Mack to still be on the boards. (thank you Jags) So it’s just a better way to do business for the books.

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