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Offset Language: What it Means for Dolphins Unsigned Draft Picks

Update:

Per Armando Salguero from his blog Dolphins in Depth:

The Dolphins are optimistic that a deal can be reached by this weekend.  He believes that the Miami Dolphins should consider including the offset language to protect themselves.  However, Salguero makes the point that haggling over the offset language would be foolish since the delay could cause Ryan Tannehill to not get a fair chance at competing for the starting QB position.  The more time Tannehill misses, according to Salguero, he has a better chance of reaching “bust” status as a rookie QB.

So, it is conceivable that Tannehill does sign soon, but the negotiation of the contract could throw a wrench into the plans of a 3 QB race during training camp. 

Just as training camp is supposed to start, the Miami Dolphins have three players unsigned: QB Ryan Tannehill, DE Olivier Vernon, and TE Michael Egnew.  While the Miami Dolphins enter camp this week, these three rookies could be looking at a delay of joining their teammates; critical time could be missed by promising 1st round pick Ryan Tannehill who is expected to compete with quarterbacks David Garrard and Matt Moore. 

So what exactly is the holdup?  For starters, when the new CBA was drafted and then ratified, the owners and players agreed upon specific language that would make 1st round picks have four year deals with a fifth year option, but that these contracts contain what is called offset language or the team having the option of paying a final option bonus in the fifth year in March. The kicker is the option bonus is paid and “guaranteed” even in the event of injury. 

To the Dolphins, this is a new development, but not entirely new on how they have conducted their business.  Dawn Aponte (she’s the Dolphins Capologist)  is said to have wanted this option in the contract of Ryan Tannehill according to a report late last week by Mike Florio of PFT.  However, if you look at the history, this is nothing new.  Remember that Ronnie Brown signed a 4 year deal as the 2nd pick of the 2005 draft, but what not everyone knows is that Ronnie Brown protected himself by having his agent negotiate an option for a 5th year with the Dolphins.  Ronnie Brown did not arrive to camp on time and thus it made it a bit difficult to see him excel in a positive fashion in his first year with Nick Saban.  However, Ronnie Brown tore his ACL  and had a Lisfranc fracture during his time with the Dolphins.  His last year?  A horrible year statistically scoring touchdowns, but he established himself a contract year with that option and coming off an injury, if he did not have that 5th year?  He would not get many looks given a difficult and grueling injury and runningbacks don’t have a lasting affect on most GMs in the NFL because of the pounding most take in years 1 through 3.  In fact, without that year, Ronnie Brown could have seen himself out of the league. 

For Tannehill, the Dolphins want this language for another reason…money.  According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, there is a chance that when a team cuts player X  from their team and was owed 2 million and then cut and then signed by a new team for 2 million, the original team saves 2 million dollars even though it is a guaranteed salary.  It’s like the original team washes their hands of the money owed. 

So let’s assume that Jeff Ireland and all responsible parties are in talks with Tannehill’s agents and that he will be in camp by Thursday.  Should his contract haveoffset language then as fans, we know that the Dolphins won the negotiation.  Why would Tannehill’s representatives not be in favor of the option year? Let’s just say that Tannehill has his best year in year 4, wouldn’t he want to sign for more money or sign elsewhere?   The inverse is true, Tannehill has 3 bad seasons in Miami and wants out in year 4 of the contract…Miami can get back money lost if he signs with a new team.

Keep in mind, no teams in the first round are including offset language even though they have every right to do so.  Where does that leave the Dolphins three rookies…as of this date unsigned and chomping at the bit to sign that 45 page document called a contract!

Just last week, both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III signed new rookie deals and each contract contains no offset language.  Let’s go Dolphins the clock is ticking!

Michael Serranía

About Michael Serranía

Dolphins fan site writer since 2011. Managing Editor since 2013. Serving all Dolphins fans with the best commentary and opinion!

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