If you believe the reports on Wednesday, the New England Patriots have come to terms with rookie center Cole Strange, the team’s first round draft pick this. If those reports are true, that would leave Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett as the lone unsigned first round draft pick in this year’s draft class. So, what’s the hold up with Pickett getting signed? Let’s dive into it.
#Patriots first-round pick OL Cole Strange is signing his contract with the team today, source said.
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) June 22, 2022
First, these rookie contracts are all slotted so the hold up with Pickett is not him wanting more money. The total slotted value of Pickett’s four-year rookie deal should be $14,067,904 and his signing bonus should be $7,411,203. Additionally, Pickett’s full contract will be fully guaranteed. There’s no question about that.
So, could offset language be the problem? What are offsets anyway?
Offsets are essentially insurance for a team on guaranteed monies if they need to cut a player before his rookie deal expires. Basically, with offset language in contracts, a player who is cut before the completion of his four-year deal, will have the remaining guaranteed money reduced by whatever he earns with the next team he signs with, should he sign with another team. Without offset language, a player could essentially double dip via his old team and new team.
Now, usually offsets become a huge haggling point within the first 10 picks of an NFL draft. With Pickett, I suppose his agent might want Pickett’s offset language treated like a first quarterback taken in previous drafts, which usually happens in the first 10 picks, and not like the 20th overall selection. That speculation of mine aside, former NFL agent Joel Corry, who writes for CBS Sports, told me earlier today that if Pickett is adamant about offset language as part of his four-year deal, he could quite possibly wind up missing regular season games as he does not believe that the Steelers will budge on that part of the negotiations. Corry told me he doubts offsets are the issue, however.
So, if the issue with Pickett is not total amount and guaranteed money and it’s not offset language, what might the hold up be. Basically, the remaining sticking point is likely to be payment timeframe of Pickett’s signing bonus. Corry talked about signing bonus payment structure related to drafted players several weeks ago on his podcast.
“The other big sticking point has been payment of signing bonus,” Corry said. “And historically you’ve seen signing bonuses in draft deals and in major deals paid in two to four installments. They’re not paid in a lump sum. But what we started to see in recent years is first round picks at the top of the draft, they’ve started to get signing bonuses in a lump sum.
“That’s a new practice that we’ve started to see. Last year, the first three picks got their signing bonuses in a lump sum: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance. In 2020, the first two picks got their signing bonuses in a lump sum: Joe Burrow, Chase Young. 2019, Nick Bosa got a signing bonus in a lump sum. 2018, Sam Darnold got his signing bonus in a lump sum. So, that’s going to be a major issue that we see this year among the first-round picks at the top of the draft.”
Well, Pickett is not a top-of-the-first-round selection, right? While that’s definitely true, the fact that Pickett was the first quarterback taken this year might have his side pressing hard for full payment of the signing bonus within 15 days of him signing his deal. By the way, Pickett’s agent is Brian Ayrault, and he also represents Burrow and Wilson, both of whom got their signing bonuses in lump sums after signing their rookie contracts. That’s a plausible reason for the hold up. Obviously, an agent wants his client to get his money as fast as possible. The team, on the other hand, would likely want to try to extend out the payment…