No concerns yet despite no deal between Bucs, Mark Barron
You might have noticed the flurry of signings among the Bucs’ draft picks in the past two months, a result of the NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement and the new structured rookie salary scale implemented last year.
But first-round pick Mark Barron, the seventh overall choice, remains unsigned. In fact, none of the top eight picks in the draft have signed deals, despite nearly 90 percent of rookies having already agreed to terms. There hasn’t been much reported progress in negotiations involving those top picks, either. So, does this suggest it’s time to be concerned?
Not at all.
Yes, there is a reason these players aren’t signed. Their agents and teams aren’t seeing eye to eye on some of the language in their contracts. But, as John Clayton of ESPN.com recently explained, the issues, while important to the players and teams, aren’t terribly serious in the grand scheme.
Here’s one of the major issues holding up the progress. Teams and player representatives are haggling over whether rookies should receive the balance of their guaranteed salaries if they’re released before the end of their deals and, subsequently, sign with another team. This is referred to as “offset” language.
For example, let's say a team cuts a player after three years, making him entitled to his full fourth-year salary (Picks 1-16 get fully-guaranteed deals under this CBA). That team would much rather see the fourth-year payout to that player reduced by the amount his new team is paying him. On the other hand, the players want to be able to collect fully from both teams.
It could be a substantial amount of money in extreme cases, but even then the numbers pale in comparison to what teams often wasted on players under the former system (remember JaMarcus Russell?).
So, is this a big deal? To those involved, sure it is. But this isn’t the kind of thing that will likely result in training camp holdouts, though that can never be ruled out.
Here’s an important point that should make all of this moot: If these players are any good, they’ll be on their teams’ rosters for the full four years – and probably a lot longer.