Marcus Mariota is the only 2015 first-round draft pick yet to sign a rookie deal with his team.
As the Tennessee Titans head into training camp, they may be without Mariota, who’s still fighting over a tiny detail in his contract with the Titans.
According to ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky, the Titans and Mariota are battling over a small detail called “offset language” in Mariota’s contract.
The Titans want offset language. It would keep them from having to pay Mariota if they cut him before his four-year deal is up and he signs with another team. Mariota doesn’t want offset language as it would allow him to “double-dip” and get paid by the Titans if he is cut and signs with another team.
For late-round draft picks, this could be worth fighting over — for Mariota, it’s unlikely to affect him.
As Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky notes, only five first-round quarterbacks have been cut from their rookie deals in the last decade — Brady Quinn, JaMarcus Russell, Tim Tebow, Blaine Gabbert, and Brandon Weeden — and only two of them were top-1o picks.
Otherwise, top picks, especially the No. 2 pick, are too valuable of assets, and the Titans have been starved for franchise talent. Mariota would have to be so bad that they deem themselves better off not even keeping him as a backup. He won’t be expensive, either, even if he isn’t a starter. Though we don’t know the exact figures of what Mariota’s contract will be, No. 1 pick Jameis Winston will be making a combined $US15 million in the final two years of his contract — a small figure for a quarterback.
The Titans don’t seem overly concerned with the dispute, so much as they’re unwilling to bend. Team president Steve Wunderwood said:
“We’ve always had offset language in our player contracts. It’s nothing new. I think it is important where a high first-round draft pick is concerned, because it’s the precedent. Everything that we do is precedential for the next round of contracts.
“So keeping the offset in place is something we want to be able to do going forward. And the minute you back away from the contract principle then you no longer are able to assert it going forward.”
Basically, the Titans don’t want to fold to Mariota, remove offset language, and then give other rookies the precedent to fight the same battle.
Both sides have reason to stand their ground. The Titans don’t want to go into training camp on July 30 without their new quarterback, nor does Mariota want to miss valuable practice time. One side will eventually have to fold, but, historically speaking, if this tiny detail matters a few years down the road, it means something else has gone wrong for Mariota and the Titans.
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