It was a tender offer to Gipson that saved the Browns just short of $1 million that has him working on his own while his teammates go through offseason workouts.
How this washes out remains to be seen, but adding an extra $1.5 million for Andy Lee, a punter, is the type of thing that make Pro Bowl safeties and their representatives dig in.
These are the types of situations that lead to players talking about being treated with respect, and they have the potential to be problematic depending on how they’re handled.
The Browns had a very good and dependable punter in Spencer Lanning, but chose to make the first trade for a punter in the NFL in 10 years -- and add Lee -- a very, very good punter -- to the payroll
The background on Gipson is well known. He was an undrafted free agent who worked his way to the starting lineup and then the Pro Bowl last season -- even though his season ended after 11 games with a knee injury that did not require surgery.
Gipson became a restricted free agent when the season ended. The Browns had the right to tender an offer to Gipson that would allow them to match any contract he signed or receive compensation if he left. The compensation depended on the tender offer.
The Browns could have offered a first-round tender on Gipson, but they chose a second-round tender -- which saved them just less than $1 million and had Gipson expressing disappointment on Twitter immediately after.
Talks to negotiate a long-term deal have not been fruitful, and Gipson remains unsigned. Because he has not signed, he does not have to report for any Browns duties and cannot be fined for missing them.
The Browns and Gipson have less than two months to work out a long-term deal to bring Gipson into training camp. Gipson can also sign the tender, play for a season and become a free agent. The Browns have the right to drastically cut Gipson's salary, but that would be a foolish decision.
Fans get turned off by contract talks, and if the Browns and Gipson work out a long-term deal this will all be forgotten. It could happen any day.
But it’s still hard not to think this situation could easily have been avoided.
The Browns had plenty of cap space when they made the tender offer to Gipson, but chose the lower-round tender. It’s not unlike the situation they are staring at with center Alex Mack. Instead of franchising Mack, Ray Farmer gave Mack the transition tag. The Browns quickly matched Jacksonville’s offer to Mack, but in doing so had to swallow the fact Mack can opt out after this season and become a free agent.
By transitioning Mack, the Browns ceded some control to another team regarding their player.
By tendering Gipson the second-round offer, they empowered his anger.
At the time, it seemed inevitable the team would work out a long-term deal because who wouldn’t work out a deal with a Pro Bowl safety who epitomized the team’s principles and attitude.
That hasn’t happened. And it's at least a concern at this point.
Complicating the situation is that every move the team makes has to be noticed by Gipson and his camp. When players talk about loyalty not being a two-way street, it refers to situations like this where the Browns:
Saved $998,000 by offering Gipson a second-round tender.
Guaranteed 36-year-old quarterback Josh McCown $6.45 million.
Guaranteed 30-year-old receiver Dwayne Bowe $10 million.
Guaranteed defensive tackle John Hughes $3.56 million.
Guaranteed 32-year-old cornerback Tramon Williams $10 million.
Heck, the Browns gave tight end Rob Housler a $750,000 signing bonus.
Nothing against those guys, and Gipson no doubt does not begrudge them getting paid.
But to think he doesn’t notice ... well, that’s naive.