With it being mid-October, I’m late with this one, but it’s all good.  Just wanted to speak on something that impacted some NFL contract negotiations this summer.

If you’re not going to be a first-rounder, you probably don’t have to worry about offset language, but I’m going to explain it anyways.

You probably never heard of it, but I’m going to talk about “offset language” real quick.

Offset Language was huge this year for high first round players, as far as negotiations were concerned.

Trent Richardson’s rookie contract negotiations were held up due to a debate over whether or not his deal would include offset language. (ICON Sports)

With the new rookie wage scale, we expected the negotiations for high first round player to go smoother (and faster) this year, but for some, that wasn’t the case.

>>Related: NFL Contracts – 15 Ways NFL Players and Teams Gain Leverage in Negotiations – Part One


What Is Offset Language?


Offset Language gives a team the ability to get rid of a high first round draft pick without having to pay everything they owe.

“What the heck does that mean,” you ask?

Well, if a team cuts a guy they draft before his original four-year contract is up, they don’t have to pay them the remaining money on his contract if another team scoops him up.

Lemme explain.

You see, although the new rookie rage scales has helped make it easier and (supposedly) faster to get deals done for guys picked at the top of the draft, the offset language debate has become the new item for agents and teams to battle over before pre-season camp hits.

>>Related: Explaining the New NFL Rookie Salary Scale

Under the new CBA, guys picked in the first round all get four year deals with an “option” for the fifth year.

Teams have to decide by the March right after the player’s third season whether or not they’re going to pick up their option for retaining the first rounder for the player’s fifth year.

If they do, the fifth year is fully guaranteed.

But!  If the contract has “offset language,” teams don’t have to pay the remaining guaranteed money that’s due to the player if they cut ’em.

Put it this way; as a player, you don’t want offset language in your contract.

>>Related: NFL Contracts: What in the World is an Escalator Clause?




So let’s say you’re signed as a first-round draft pick to a four-year deal, and that your deal has no offset language.

Let’s also assume that you were due $2 million for your fourth year.

If the team that drafted you chose to release you before the fourth year, and (for the sake of even numbers) another team signs you and pays you $2 million for your fourth year in the league, you would get the $2 million from your first team, and the $2 million from the second squad.

So as you can see, it’s in the team’s best interest that there is offset language in that contract.

If there’s offset language (sticking with the example above), you would essentially make $2 million less than what you would’ve made.

This is because you would’ve only gotten paid $2 million for your fourth year by your new team only.

Make sense?

When it’s all said and done, it’s not that big of a deal for most rookies.

Besides, it’s fairly rare for a first round pick to get released in their first four seasons in the league, anyways…

Unless of course, you’re a certified bust, and that’s a whole ‘nother topic, partner.


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