With 2012 draft choices signing at a rate unprecedented for this early in the offseason, negotiating rookie deals seems to have never been so cookie-cutter, thanks in large part to a first-year wage scale that provides little wiggle room to either club cap experts or to agents.
The CBA extension of last summer has assigned a slotted 2012 cap value,
a "year one allotment" for each of the 253 choices, and with a
first-year minimum of $390,000 and everyone trying to maximize the
upfront money, calculating the signing bonus is a pretty easy formula.
But there is one matter that has slowed the process at the top of the
draft -- so-called "offset language."
It seems to be a principle hurdle to the logjam in earliest quadrant of
the first round, starting with Andrew Luck at No. 1 overall and
including the top eight picks in April's draft.
The offset element has been, well, off-putting to the agents for the
The offset component -- which, in most easily understandable terms,
would grant relief to a franchise that releases a player, and then sees
him sign with another team, usually in the final (fourth) year of a
deal -- is clearly a sticking point. It might, in fact, be perhaps the
biggest one, and certainly the deterrent mentioned most frequently to
The Sports Xchange in discussions with agents and team executives
involved with top eight picks, that has precluded agreements for the
As of Friday morning, none of the top eight prospects chosen in April
had yet reached accords on their initial rookie contracts, and
dickering over the offset language is believed to be a factor in all
eight of those cases.
There was no offset language included in the contract awarded the 2011
top pick, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, and agents seem to be
referring to that when the matter of including an offset clause is
broached by teams.
"I'm not familiar with every comma of what's going on with
negotiations, but I do know that (the offset language) is a big, big
sticking point that we haven't been able to move beyond," one owner
with a top five choice confirmed to The Sports Xchange at a one-day
meeting in Atlanta on May 22. "Hopefully, we can get past it and get
(our guy) signed."
Said one agent: "If they made a mistake taking (my player), and they
decide that's the case after three years, why should they get relief?
That's on them."
Neither side in the negotiations for the top eight players has budged
Granted, there hasn't been as much discussion by Dallas about a deal
for the No. 6 pick, cornerback Morris Claiborne, because the Cowboys
could not sign him until they received a June 1 cap rebate for the
release of Terence Newman, but there were some discussions with agent
Bus Cook regarding contract structure, and it's believed the concept of
offsets was included.
A dozen of the 32 selections in the first round have already signed,
linebacker Luke Kuechly of Carolina the highest at No. 9 (a deal that
includes no offset language), but it could still be a while before any
of the top eight choices reaches terms.
It might be the only major haggling point remaining in a signing
process that has lacked drama to this juncture and figures to feature
few, if any, of the usual 11th-hour deals.
There has been some suggestion that all 32 of the first-round
selections could have deals before the beginning of July, weeks before
teams report to training camps, and probably the earliest date ever for
completing all the contracts.
The battle over offset language, though, could still add some intrigue
to the process.
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"Offset" a Hangup On Rookie Deals
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