Once again, the San Diego Chargers' irst-round draft pick has yet to sign a contract.
It was believed amongst the football community that once the rookie salary system that was agreed upon in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement went into place, teams would be able to sign their first-round draft picks with the slightest of ease.
However, Chargers first-round draft pick (18th overall) defensive end Corey Liuget has yet to come to terms of the new mandatory four-year contract.
According to a report from SignOnSanDiego.com, the sticking point on getting Liuget into camp is regarding the fourth year of the contract; Chargers GM A.J. Smith is refusing to guarantee the money regarding the fourth year of the contract.
This has been a point of debate under the new rookie salary system.
Before the rookie salary system was created, first-round draft picks were usually signed to lengthy multi-year deals with a large portion of the contract (usually the signing bonus) guaranteed. Essentially if a player was to be injured, they would still receive the guaranteed money of the contract.
For instance, in MLB, a player's contract is completely guaranteed. If he is injured or traded, the team is still required to pay his salary. In case of a player being traded (i.e. Alex Rodriguez), the team he was traded to usually sends money to the team he was traded from to offset the cost since the team he was traded from is required to pay his contract unless the new team restructures it or signs him to a new deal.
Complicated, I know!
However, in the NFL, only a certain amount of any player's contract is guaranteed. That guaranteed money (usually the signing bonus) is usually spread out over a specific period of time (in one lump sum at the beginning of the contract or spread out), but the signing bonus is prorated over the life of the contract.
San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews, who was drafted with the 12th overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, received a contract worth $25.65 million with $15.083 million guaranteed.
After a $911,000 bonus in 2010, Mathews' bonus for 2011 is projected at $5,688,750, but could be approximately $8,483,250. However, the $15.083 prorated over the life of the contract means that $15.083 million over five years equals $3,016,600 per year. His base salary for 2010 was $320,000 plus the prorated bonus, which means Mathews accounted for $3,336,600 against the salary cap.
Even more complicated!
NFL player contracts are "back-loaded," meaning the player would receive more of their base salary toward the end of the contract. It allows teams to release players without taking a severe hit to that team's salary cap.
So, with all that complicated information, the new rookie salary system took away the complexity of a draft choice's salary cap number. According to NFL.com's first-round draft pick signing tracker, eight of the first-round selections' entire contracts have been guaranteed money. Some teams haven't disclosed the terms of their first-round draft picks' contracts.
The new system was enabled to prevent first-round draft picks from holding out during training camps, but it seems Liuget believes otherwise.
The longer he stays out of camp, the more it will hurt him in the long run, especially with the shortened training camp timeframe due to the NFL lockout.
I can only hope Chargers general manager A.J. Smith and Corey Liuget's agent can get a deal worked out in time.