After a two day hold out, Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill signed his contract on Saturday, arriving at his first day of training camp on Sunday. The negotiations between the team and their franchise quarterback of the future came down to "offset" language, or how much of Tannehill's guaranteed monies would be the Dolphins responsibility if the quarterback were released and then signed with another team.
Basically, offset language means, if Tannehill were cut by the Dolphins, let's say after his third year, leaving one year on the contract, and he had $2 million guaranteed, then he signed with another team for $1 million that season, Miami would only play him $1 million. This way, he is still receiving the $2 million guaranteed, but he is unable to pull full salaries from two separate teams for a year.
According to a Palm Beach Post blog entry from Ben Volin, the Dolphins were not playing hard ball with Tannehill because he is a rookie. The Dolphins were insisting on the offset language because they have had it in every free agent and rookie contract since 2010 - including players like Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, and Matt Moore. The team began including it in the 2010 season, with only linebacker Karlos Dansby being signed without it.
General Manager Jeff Ireland claimed control of the team's personnel moves in 2010, when former vice president of football operations Bill Parcells changed his role into "consultant" instead of the man with the final say. Ireland includes the offset language in an attempt to limit the "dead" money the team would have against the salary cap if they were to release a player, allowing the Dolphins to have more room to operate and find new players if needed.
Tannehill's contract is a four-year deal worth $12.668 million, which is right where he was supposed to be slotted in the new rookie wage scale. But, the Dolphins and Tannehill got creative in making the contract, turning base salary money into roster bonuses as a compromise so the offset language would be included.
Volin's article does a good job of breaking down exactly what money is salary, what is signing bonus, and what is "roster bonus." He also includes the most important numbers for the Dolphins, and for us as fans: the salary cap numbers. Signing bonuses are given to a player up front, but are spread over the length of the career for salary cap purposes. This means that Tannehill's $7.653 million signing bonus is a $1.91 million salary cap number per season.
Here are the total numbers Tannehill will count against the salary cap for the length of his contract:
- 2012: $2.303 million
- 2013: $2.879 million
- 2014: $3.455 million
- 2015: $4.030 million
Check out the Volin article for the full breakdown of bonus and base salary money.
[Hat tip to bbickley]
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