The Browns’ rookies are scheduled to report to training camp on Tuesday, but there hasn’t been any recent progress in finalizing the contracts of first-round draft picks Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden, a league source told the Beacon Journal.
The new collective bargaining agreement, which was adopted last summer, has streamlined the process of signing draft picks because salaries are now slotted to correspond with each selection. Still, 10 players chosen in the first round of this year’s draft had not signed as of Saturday night.
Five of them, including Richardson, were top-eight picks in April. Offset language is a common sticking point in negotiations involving the group of top picks that includes Richardson, the third overall selection who’s in line to receive a fully guaranteed four-year deal worth about $20.4 million and start for the Browns at running back this year.
Teams prefer offset language in contracts because it allows them to avoid paying a drafted player the full remainder of his salary in the event he is cut before the expiration of his four-year deal and signs with another team. Players don’t want offset language because it eliminates the possibility for a scenario in which they could be paid in full by the team that drafted them, plus receive whatever salary their new team agrees to.
So far, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (No. 1 overall pick), Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (No. 2), Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mark Barron (No. 7) and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (No. 9) have reportedly signed contracts containing no offset language.
As for Weeden, who’s in line to receive a four-year deal worth about $8.1 million and become the Browns’ starting quarterback this year, players drafted in the vicinity of where he was selected — No. 22 overall — want all four years of their contracts fully guaranteed, though it doesn’t usually happen.
Players picked in the second half of the first round often receive deals with three years fully guaranteed and the fourth year partially guaranteed, if at all. Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn, the 20th overall pick in 2011, became the exception because all four years of his contract are fully guaranteed.
On July 12, Browns General Manager Tom Heckert told reporters during a conference call he was “sure” Richardson and Weeden would be in camp on time, but that does not necessarily mean they’ll report on Tuesday. The first practice of camp for rookies is scheduled to be held Wednesday at the team’s headquarters. Veterans are scheduled to report Thursday, and the first full-squad practice is set for Friday. Camp opens to the public Saturday.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.