Battle over offset language still lingers in top-10 contracts

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With not much left to negotiate in rookie deals, rookies taken at the top of the draft in recent years have pushed for a term that allows them to keep the full amount of their guaranteed four-year contracts plus whatever they receive elsewhere, if they stink enough to get cut by the team that drafted them. Many teams hope to avoid double-dipping, a minor consolation to the fact that a top-10 pick was so bad in his first four years that the team had to cut him.

Fewer teams omit offset language, but some still do. The Rams, per a source with knowledge of the deal, removed offset language from the contract given to Jared Goff (pictured) at No. 1. Then again, the Rams annually have removed offset language for guaranteed money in rookie contracts, regardless of the spot in round one where the player was taken.

At No. 5, the Jaguars also removed offset language for cornerback Jalen Ramsey, consistent with the team’s habit when consistently picking in the top five (but not for much longer).

The only unsigned top-10 pick, Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, is believed to be seeking no offset language as part of a standoff that caused him to skip mandatory minicamp. But while the fact that the No. 1 and No. 5 picks avoided it, the guys taken at No. 2 and No. 4 have it.

For several top-10 draft picks, the fallback to removing offset language arises from a cash-flow structure that forces the team to make a decision early in the later years of the deal, if the wind is blowing in the direction of blasting the guy off the roster. This year, four of the players taken in the first 10 picks have a structure that will bring the issue to a head earlier than the start of the regular season.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, the second overall pick, has guaranteed roster bonuses payable early in training camp for 2017, 2018, and 2019. So if the Eagles are going to cut him and avoid a Wentz double dip, they need to do so before camp — which in turn would give him a better chance to land elsewhere than if he’s dumped unceremoniously after the preseason ends.

Players with similar structures include 49ers defensive end DeForest Buckner (pick No. 7), Titans tackle Jack Conklin (pick No. 8), and Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd (pick No. 9). For the other players taken in the top 10, their teams have both offset language and the ability to make a decision about whether to keep the player after fully assessing his performance in training camp and the preseason, for each and every year of his contract.

Again, teams that ultimately are required to cut the cord on a top-10 pick in less than four years have far bigger issues than whether they’ll have to pay the full amount of a failed player’s contract. But with little about which to squabble, draft picks and teams are still squabbling about, essentially, the procedures for cleaning up the aftermath of a worst-case scenario.

14 responses to “Battle over offset language still lingers in top-10 contracts

  1. If I were to become a first round pick, I don’t think I’d have to much fuss over it. Coming from a $50,000+ a year job, which I feel is very good considering our economy, I would be pretty happy with millions.

    These kids coming out of college should appreciate the opportunity they have and not be so greedy. You could be doing a lot worse. Sign the contract, live your dream, and be thankful of all of us suckers that make less than peanuts who spend so much of it to watch you live your dream.

  2. Will the nfl ever do fully guaranteed contracts? Why do other sports have it but NFL players are getting the shaft?

  3. Player: Don’t get cut on your rookie contract.

    Team: Don’t draft dude you will cut during rookie contract in top 10.

    Pretty simple and FWIW, the penny pinching on this unlikely situation is ridiculous on both sides.

  4. As an owner I get it. And I hate unions. But as a player what we agree upon I have coming. If you cut me where and what I make has nothing to do with the First Agreement.

  5. They should all have the offset language. Why should players who failed in their first contract get to paid twice for failing? Teams that ignored this clause (eg LA and Jax) were just being soft in the negotiation to wrap things up quicker and get the players signed.
    The clause in question was strongly embraced by Dolphins capologist and attorney Dawn Aponte about 5 years ago and was taken up by more and more team GMs. The failure by some teams to stick together on this probably exposes the different management styles and priorities of different teams, eg LA Rams are focused on difficult task of relocating cities. If players like Joey Bosa don’t sign the contract with the offset language, it’s a sign that the player agents (eg CAA) have too much control over the players. Bosa comes from an experienced NFL family. Interesting to see who blinks first.

  6. Again, the media and their NFLPA buddies demand no offset language, meaning that the NFL team is not protected if they have to cut the player if he is a bust, becomes a criminal, etc.

    I side with the NFL teams on the offset language. NFL teams, and the NFL, NEED some legal protection from idiot players who suck or do stupid things. Players have union/Obama protection, whereas it is 100% politically incorrect for any NFL team (or the NFL itself) to have any legal protections whatsoever).

    So I say screw the players, they’re millionaires, so cry me a damn river.

  7. @pftcancer if your boss is going to earn millions with the health of u and ur teammates, u fight 4 every cent. U deserve. But not only u, almost every reasonable human. As well as they are trying not paying u for being cut if u play badly, but if u play well, they can maintain U for a fifth year and 2 franchise tags or tarde u where they want with no certainty and u ask them for sigan without complaint.
    If u earn 50k, it is because u produce a little more than that, if u earn millions it is because u produce that.

  8. @pftcancer…. you sound like the typical fan who doesn’t understand the dynamics of the offset language. Basically what these players want is the ability to get as much of their rookie contract as possible. Re-read the Wentz deal, his roster bonuses are payable BEFORE camp. The 4 unsigned draftees could be cut after training camp which makes it too late or almost impossible to be picked up and paid for that upcoming season.
    It’s the owners who are greedy…offset language is their way of being able to weasel out of paying a player in years 4 and 5.

  9. This is another issue that shows the ignorance of the NFLPA in dealing with the NFL . Before the rookie cap teams were forced to pay top picks like Matt Stafford 70 mil with 40 mil guaranteed . The NFLPA gives this away in exchange for a rookie salary cap that allows teams to take away even more earning potential for the rookies at the end of their first contract . Haven’t seen one major issue that the NFLPA came out ahead of the NFL in their CBA . NFL players need to wakeup and hire a leadership team that actually knows how to negotiate a fair deal . Allowing the clown show that runs the NFL to dictate the terms of the CBA shows just how incompetent the present leadership of the NFLPA truly is .

  10. Team A doesn’t want a player but still owes him guaranteed money (promised to player at signing) so they cut him. Offset language means even though Team A doesn’t want him bad enough to take a cap hit and cuts him, they want reimbursement if Team B wants him. Team A makes their team better by cutting player, but now wants their money back if Team B makes themselves better by signing him. No give backs, Team A… let player go where he’s wanted.

  11. There’s no right or wrong or principle in this, it’s millionaires haggling with billionaires, no different than you or I haggling or $500 at the car dealership.

    A protracted rookie holdout hurts both parties, which is why most of the time these things get settled quickly. But there’s no standard operating procedure, so it’s hard call one side or the other unreasonable.

  12. How hard is it to spell out “you” instead of the text speak “u”? You’re a grown man, damnit!

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