Offset money could delay Morris Claiborne deal

IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have signed four of their seven draft picks this week and hope to have safety Matt Johnson in the fold by Thursday.

That would leave first-rounder Morris Claiborne and fourth-rounder Kyle Wilber as the final two unsigned draft picks.

Getting Claiborne, the No. 6 overall pick, under wraps might take a little longer.

Only two of the top-10 picks in the first round have signed deals, in part because of offset language that would free a team from the full obligation of guaranteed money should that player sign with another team if he is cut in the future.

“That’s probably what is holding everybody up because the money is the money,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said of the lack of early first-round signings. “I think everyone wants to be consistent at the end of the day. I think that is what is holding everything up, see what is going to be the flavor of the day.”

Claiborne’s agent, Bus Cook, would not want offset language in the deal because it would allow his client to essentially double dip. For example, if Claiborne is due $2 million in 2015 and signs with another team for $1 million after being cut, then the Cowboys would only be on the hook for $1 million.

The Cowboys’ top pick last year, Tyron Smith, who was the No. 9 overall pick, does not have offset language in his contract. Neither do Carolina’s Luke Kuechly and Buffalo’s Stephon Gilmore, who were the Nos. 9 and 10 picks this year.

Claiborne is in line to receive a similar four-year deal that last year’s. No. 6 pick, Julio Jones, received from Atlanta ($16.2 million).

“There are some details to work through, that’s what we’re doing,” Jones said. “But I don’t see any reason to be alarmed or concerned.”