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We can all sleep easier, Joe Banner has taken the black to protect -someone- from the NFL version of grumpkins and snarks: offset language. If this means the Browns top draft pick has to hold out, that’s ok. Pay that no mind and don’t forget the guys who are at Berea have a healthier cafeteria? Good thing the Browns have staffed their communications and fan experience departments.
Berea seems to be asking a lot of loyal Browns fans this off-season.
As of 7/19 AM, Barkevious Mingo is unsigned due to the line-in-the-sand drawn by Joe Banner on offset language.
Here’s a definition of offset language. As I’ll show below, it doesn’t matter. But we should be on the same page on what we’re talking about.
Thanks to the new CBA, first-round contracts are four-year deals with a fifth-year option for the team. That option must be picked up by the March following the player’s third year. Once that is exercised, a player’s fifth year of the contract (as much as $10 million) is guaranteed for injury. Essentially, teams will make decisions on their first-rounders after Year 3, determining whether or not they want to be on the hook for the remaining money.
But in the fourth year comes the debate over offset language. If there is offset language, it allows the team to save money when releasing a player. Let’s say a first-rounder is due $2 million in his fourth year. If he’s released, and then agrees to a $2 million deal with a new team, the original team is completely off the hook. He receives $2 million from his new club, and the team that drafted him washes its hands of the situation. If there is no offset language, the discarded player receives the guaranteed money from his original team and the full salary from his new team. The original team can’t merely allow the new team to pay the remaining guaranteed money as part of the new deal.
This is interesting background and shows how utterly improbable it is that offset language will ever factor. If the Browns are waiving Barky Mingo after four years… no one else is signing him. We don’t even need a bell curve for this. Won’t happen.
[And quite frankly, why SHOULD a player accept offset language? If I’m not working for you, because you fired me, who the hell are you to restrict my future earnings?]
But even if it WAS a realistic possibility, it doesn’t matter. The market has been set. Robert Quinn got a contract without offsets at #14 last year. In 2012 only one top 10 pick did not have offset language: the implausibly highly drafted Ryan Tannehill. (And I would bet my left nut that “The Brady Quinn Holdout of 2007” figured in the Tannehill talks.) This year, three top 10 picks have signed (Joeckel, Ansah, Austin). None have offset language. But we can shorten this discussion: Tavon Austin was drafted at #8. Mingo was drafted at #6. If you were an agent, would you allow your client at #6 to sign to worse terms than this year’s #8? Than last year’s top 10s?
You would not. That is because your singular reason for existence is to know the market and ensure your player is paid at or above it. To do otherwise without specific reasons is bad for your client, true, but also career
limiting ending for you. Imagine interviewing your next client. “Yeah I was the only agent who didn’t get offset language waived for my top ten draft pick client.” “Click.”
This is nothing more than a hold-the-line GM and responsible agent richard measuring contest. And Banner will lose. Even if he wins, he loses. Because it’s more important to have the sixth overall pick in camp on time than it is to prevent an individual from striking a contract with another business after you fired him. In four years.
To recap the hand Banner is playing:
1. The market says #6 picks do not have offset language.
2. Offset language itself is highly improbable to go into effect.
3. Agents hate being the worst ones at their jobs.
4. It’s a wrong policy for any employment contract on it’s face.