Breaking down Justin Blackmon's deal

August, 6, 2012
8/06/12
10:16
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The contract between the Jaguars and Justin Blackmon -- the last player in the 2012 draft class to sign -- became a stare-down between the team and Blackmon’s agents over what contractual penalty Blackmon would receive based on his DUI arrest. (He tested three times the legal limit June 4.)

The Jaguars are ushering in a new era: new owner, new coach and a new contract negotiator certainly intent on impressing the new owner.

Citing the embarrassment that Blackmon brought not only upon himself but also upon the team and the city, the Jaguars took a hard line on this contract. They also noted that this was Blackmon’s second alcohol-related arrest (although they drafted him fifth in the draft after the first one), initially offering no signing bonus, no guarantees and a total value much lower than the maximum slot for the fifth pick.

Speaking of that slot, the maximums were virtually the same as received by the slot last year by Patrick Peterson of the Cardinals: $18.5 million over four years with an $11.9 million signing bonus.

After weeks of wrangling and 12 days into training camp, the team and Blackmon finally struck a deal that -- through delayed cash flow -- accounted for Blackmon’s problematic behavior but rewarded him with the full slot amount and signing bonus.

According to league sources close to the negotiation, here are the key components of Blackmon’s contract:

He will receive only 60 percent of the slotted $11.9 million bonus -- an amount of $7.11 million -- as signing bonus, with the balance coming as follows:

2013: March roster bonus of $700,000, followed by a guaranteed roster bonus of $1 million five days before the start of training camp. Thus, after one year, Blackmon will have received 75 percent of the slotted signing bonus.

2014: Guaranteed roster bonus of $1.7 million five days after the start of the league year.

2015: Guaranteed roster bonus of $1.39 million five days after the start of the league year.

And Blackmon will receive the following guaranteed salaries:

2012: $390,000
2013: $1.23 million
2014: $2.07 million
2015: $2.91 million

Despite their initial position, every bit of the $18.5 million in the contract is guaranteed; it just comes in different waves over time.

Blackmon’s contract has the same language as other first-round picks, where suspensions would void future salary guarantees, but doesn't have different or special language in his deal based on his DUI transgression.

And as for “the issue” from the back side of these contracts at the top of the draft, Blackmon’s contract contains no offset language, leaving Miami’s Ryan Tannehill as the only player in the top nine picks to have offset language in his contract. Thus, if Blackmon is released before the contract ends, he can “double dip” if he signs with a new team.

Overall, the Jaguars and Blackmon came up with a creative way to handle a sensitive issue. The team got its cash flow preference; the player will (eventually) get his money.

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