Offset language stalls rookie deals

We already know that Tampa Bay rookie safety Mark Barron's first-year cap figure can’t be more than $2.63 million and the total value of his contract can’t exceed $19.1 million. So why does Barron, the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, remain unsigned?

Largely because none of the first eight picks have reached agreements and it seems like everyone is waiting for someone else to go first. As ESPN football business guru Andrew Brandt explains in this podcast, the logjam at the top is all about offset language.

“Teams want language in the contract, these are fully guaranteed contracts, saying that if they cut the player at some point and he signs another player, they are offset their guarantee,’’ Brandt said. “So they cut a player, he signs for a million dollars somewhere, that million comes off what they owe.’’

Another NFC South team already has played a role in creating the delay in the top draft picks getting signed. Carolina already has signed No. 9 overall pick Luke Kuechly and his contract does not contain any offset language.

“Teams want to get that in there,’’ Brandt said. “The only precedent in the top nine is that they do not have it. That seems to be the fight. They’re all waiting for one of the top eight to go one way or the other and then the other teams may follow.’’

I can understand teams wanting to protect themselves. But, then again, if you’ve done enough homework on a guy to take him in the top eight picks of the draft, shouldn’t you be pretty comfortable that he’s going to fit in with your team?