Battle Lines Drawn In Third Round Also
It is kind of a curious
segment of the NFL draft to pick a fight, but the negotiation battle
line between agents and team salary cap experts seemingly has been
drawn in the third round, and might end up being every bit as
contentious and protracted as the looming tussle over first-round
Through Friday morning, there were just as many unsigned
selections in the third round (14) as in the first. And the impasse at
the top of the third round, where none of the first nine choices has a
deal yet, was even longer than that the stalemate at the outset of
Round 1. No pick in the top eight of the first round has signed.
None of the other rounds includes more than three unsigned prospects.
few weeks ago, the Tip Sheet cracked the code on the lack of action at
the top of the first round, initially reporting that a disagreement
over so-called "offset language" was the primary source for a logjam
which still exists. The dearth of agreements at the top of the third
round has nothing to do with "offsets" but might be a matter that is
every bit as esoteric to most fans.
But it is clearly significant to the men on either side of the
third-round gridlock has flown below the public radar screen so far --
with more than 85 percent of the 253 picks exercised in April having
already come to contract terms well in advance of July training camps
-- but the bone of contention is a remaining sore spot among agents and
The holdup, The Sports Xchange has confirmed
through agents and club officials, is, instead, over the so-called
"25-percent rule." Or, more accurately, over the agents' desire to
maximize their clients' base salaries given the restrictions of the
rule, and the reluctance of the top eight teams in the round to allow
them to do so.
"It's just a crazy situation," veteran agent Eugene
Parker, who represents Denver third-round running back Ronnie Hillman,
told The Sports Xchange.
It's also, though, a situation that doesn't figure to be easily
put, the 25-percent rule allows a team to increase a player's base
salary by 25 percent every season. The formula for determining the 25
percent: Divide a player's signing bonus by four (the number of years
for which a third-round pick must sign), add the first-year minimum
salary ($390,000 for 2012), and then take 25 percent of that total. For
tight end Dwayne Allen of Indianapolis, the first choice in the third
round, for instance, the annual 25 percent bumps would be $141,456.50.
That's one-fourth of Allen's signing bonus (slotted at $703,304), plus
his 2012 base salary of $390,000 (total: $565,826), multiplied by 25
So, provided Allen was able to maximize his annual
increases of 25 percent, his base salaries would be $390,000 (2012),
$531,456.50 (2013), $672,913 (2014) and $869,369.50. That comes to
$2,408,739 in base salaries. But the minimum base salaries for the four
seasons are $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000, a total of only
$2.1 million. That's hardly to suggest the Colts have proposed just
minimum salaries for the four years. Neither, though, have they agreed
to offer the full 25 percent increases permitted by the CBA.
For agents, the differences are critical.
the (rookie) wage scale, there's not a lot of wiggle room or much
chance for subjectivity," said the agent for one of the unsigned
third-rounders. "The third round is kind of the beginning and also the
end for subjectivity . . . and both sides seem to know that. It might
be an unusual place for the kind of logjam we have right now, but
that's where the battle is being waged."
Another agent even employed the "C-word" reference, alluding to
"collusion," to describe the stalemate.
"How else would all eight teams be holding the line together?" he said.
the 18 choices signed so far in the third round, 10 have agreed to
deals that pay them the minimum base salaries for all four seasons of
the contracts. That is not unusual in the second half of the round. Six
choices signed contracts that included some sort of additional funding,
usually in the form of offseason workout bonuses, but very few have
been able to "max out" the 25-percent increases.
Last year, four
players among the top 10 in the third round received annual salary
increases that either permitted the maximum 25-percent jumps, or close
to them. But in 2012, despite the relative warp-speed at which draft
contracts have been completed, the third round has been a difficult
In fact, two first-round picks have signed since the last
time a third-rounder agreed to terms a week ago. After an early flurry
in the stanza, just four third-rounders have completed deals this
As noted in this space last week, the dramatically
below-market contract signed last year by the third choice in the third
round, linebacker Nate Irving, is causing some problems. It's not
nearly the hang-up, however, as the continuing battle over the
Acknowledged one team negotiator: "The 25-percent
(rule) is causing a 100-percent headache for the teams at the top of
the round right now."
Top 25, Have Reasons Not To Sign
is a common reason in common why the NFL draft picks from No. 22
through 25 remain unsigned -- a lack of guaranteed money in the final
season (2015) of their mandated, four-year deals.
Those picks are, in order, Brandon Weedon (Cleveland), David DeCastro
(Pittsburgh) and Don't'a Hightower (New England).
this point, the teams involved with those slots have refused to include
even partial guarantees for the fourth season of the contract. All 10
of the players signed in the top 19, with Chicago defensive end Shea McClellin the last of the group, have guarantees on all four seasons of
their base salaries. The 20th choice, Tennessee's Kendall Wright,
remains unsigned. In the 21st slot, New England provided full
skill/injury/salary cap guarantees for the first three seasons of
defensive end Chandler Jones' contract, and a 50 percent guarantee
($752,284 of $1,504,568) for the final year.
All of the seven
choices Nos. 26-32 have the first three years of their contracts fully
guaranteed, but no guarantees for the fourth season. All four of the
choices in the 22-25 grouping want some type of guarantee for the final
year. And the reluctance of the four franchises involved with those
picks to do so has created one of only three "logjams" in the entire
draft class. Beyond the stalemates at the top of the first and third
rounds, the mini-logjam in the second half of Round 1 is the only other
place in the draft with consecutive unsigned choices.
Draft: Some Rookies Have No Incentive To Sign
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