Could Offset Language Be Delaying Deal Between Lane Johnson and Eagles? | Eagles Addict
Lane Johnson

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Philadelphia Eagles first round draft pick Lane Johnson still remains unsigned. With the rookie wage scale in place since the new CBA in 2011, the drama surrounding rookie contracts has become a thing of the past.

The length of the contracts are set and for the most part, the financial parameters of rookie deals are pre-determined with minimal room for negotiation.  The No. 2 and No. 5 overall picks have already signed their deal as well, so logically Johnson’s deal will be somewhere in between.

Therefore, what is holding things up?

If there is a problem, it could be with what’s called “offset language.”

Offset language refers to a clause in the contract that, if a player is released before their contract expires, it allows the team to reduce the guaranteed money owed to the player equal to the amount of his new deal with another team.

For example, let’s say there is offset language in Johnson’s contract and the Eagles release him after three seasons but still owe him $2 million because his contract will be guaranteed. He then moves on to sign a deal somewhere else for the amount of $1.5 million.

In this case, the Eagles would only be on the hook for $500,000.  If there was no offset language, Johnson would be able to collect the $1.5 million in his new contract plus the full $2 million from the Eagles.

In essence, no offsets would allow a player to double dip while having an offset could save the team money in the event the player is a bust.

Obviously, you can see why the players would not want any offset language in their deal.  In these scenarios, usually we’re only talking about roughly a few million dollars, depending on where the player was selected.

Either way, that is chump change in comparison to what teams used to be on the hook for (think the Raiders and JaMarcus Russell).

The good news for Johnson is that the majority of contracts for top first round players has trended towards having no offset language.  Last season, eight of the top 10 players had no offset language and none within the top five.

The Eagles had signed Fletcher Cox last year by the middle of June and did not put any offset language in his deal. If the Eagles cut him after three seasons, they would still owe him upwards of $3.25 million of his $10.2 million deal, depending on how they’ve dispersed his signing bonus.

However, those are the figures of a player taken 12th overall.  Johnson was taken fourth overall so his contract will conceivably be twice as much as Cox’s.  Luke Joeckel’s deal was for $21.2 million and Ziggy Ansah’s was for just about $18.6 million.

Johnson’s projected contract will be roughly $19.8 million, therefore the Eagles would be on the hook for much more than they would with Cox if they have no offset language and Johnson proves to be a bust.

Johnson’s agent is Ken Sarnoff, who is part of Players Rep Sports Management.  Since they are a relatively low key agency with no high profile players, I can’t imagine they’re being too demanding or irrational in negotiations.

The only real issue could be is if the Eagles want offset language.  Word on the street is that Miami may be making a strong push to have an offset in No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan’s contract.

The Dolphins are one of the two teams last year who were able to get offset language in a top 10 pick’s deal (No. 8 pick Ryan Tannehill).  Could the Eagles be waiting to see if they’re successful in getting it included in a top five pick?

If Miami succeeded, it would give the Eagles leverage if they do, in fact, want offset language in Johnson’s deal.

Ultimately, a deal will get done with Johnson and I would be surprised if it included offset language.  However, with rookies set to report just 19 days from now, they better get this figured out soon.

Could today be the day he signs?  Apparently Johnson is headed to the NovaCare Center today…could it be to sign his nice shiny new contract?


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