The delay of Matt Kalil's contract agreement

July, 11, 2012
7/11/12
4:00
PM ET
Tuesday's SportsNation chat brought a number of questions about the Minnesota Vikings' contract negotiations with left tackle Matt Kalil, who remains unsigned -- along with the seven other players drafted in the top eight -- with training camp looming in two weeks.

AD of DC wanted to know if there was any chance that Kalil wouldn't report to training camp on time, noting that "the new CBA was supposed to make it easier to sign your first rounders."

Generally speaking, that remains the case. Draft signings have moved quickly this year for the most part, and as of Wednesday afternoon only three NFC North draft picks -- Kalil, Josh Robinson (Vikings third-rounder) and Riley Reiff (Detroit Lions first-rounder) -- are unsigned.

But, as ESPN business analyst Andrew Brandt explained in Wednesday's Football Today podcast, there is a very specific holdup affecting the top eight picks of the draft. Perhaps you've heard it referred to as "offset language," but Brandt explained it in a way that all of us can easily understand.

All eight picks will get fully guaranteed contracts, and the specific numbers are dictated by slot and pretty much non-negotiable. But teams are trying to protect themselves if one of these picks is a bust.
Brandt: "Teams want language in their contract … saying if they cut the player at some point, and he signs another contract, they are "offset" the guarantee. So they cut a player. He signs for $1 million somewhere. That $1 million comes off what they owe."

Otherwise, the player would be able to double-dip: Earning the remainder of his guarantee from the original team and then whatever his new team is willing to pay him. In the example above, the offset clause would save the original team $1 million.

The highest draft pick to have signed a contract thus far, the Carolina Panthers' Luke Kuechly, did not have the offset language in his deal. Agents for players in the top eight are hoping to hold off their respective teams in a similar way.

It's a relatively minor point in the scheme of contracts that will top out at $22 million or so for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, the No. 1 overall pick. It's hard to believe it could spur holdouts, but there also aren't many other places where ambitious agents can win victories for their rookie clients. If we're still having this discussion two weeks from today, that means this issue escalated into something bigger than it now appears.

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