As of the writing of this article, the start of Titans’ training camp is just over a week away, and only one of the Titans’ most recent haul of draft picks has yet to sign his contract.
Six first-round picks - including SF's Solomon Thomas, Tenn's Corey Davis and NYJ's Jamal Adams - remain unsigned.https://t.co/GZrxu5OTuP— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 20, 2017
The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Jets’ Jamal Adams have since signed their deals, leaving Corey Davis, the team’s first first-round pick at No. 5 overall, as one of just four rookies in the NFL to remain unsigned.
With training camp right around the corner, should Titans fans be concerned about this?
The practice of rookies “holding out” for specific contract deal points has largely been diminished with the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, which makes standard many of the historical sticking points.
There is one point, however, that is not governed by the CBA, leading to Joey Bosa’s high-profile hold out last season. On July 28, 2016, Bosa’s agent sent an offer to the Chargers brass, but Bosa was not signed until August 24th. He missed the first four weeks of training camp.
The one point left to argue about is the idea of offset language, which, when left out of the contract, essentially allows a rookie who does not play the entire length of his 4-year guaranteed contract with the team who drafted him to “double-dip” if he is signed to another team.
When offset language is included, the team that drafted the player is only responsible for the remaining amount of guaranteed money that is not paid to the player by his new team, essentially, the offsetting amount.
The Titans were notoriously slow at signing their first-round picks in the Ruston Webster era, as Webster was a real stickler for including the offset language clause, which agents usually try to avoid. From Terry McCormick:
2012 first-rounder Kendall Wright and 2013 first-rounder Chance Warmack were holdouts from the first few days of training camp over the matter, while 2014 first-round choice Taylor Lewan and last year’s first-round pick Marcus Mariota were in on time, but were the last first-round picks in the NFL to agree to terms.
The Titans’ first-round pick of 2016, Jack Conklin, signed his deal on May 23rd last year, less than a month after the draft. It seemed like the lengthy contract negotiations of the old regime might be a thing of the past under new General Manager Jon Robinson.
While there are no details on what’s causing the delay in signing Davis, the obvious conclusion is that there’s a hold-up over the offset language clause. Davis is represented by the same agency that represents Joey Bosa, so it is easy to assume that the offset language is the problem.
According to that article above (linked in Schefty’s tweet) written by Dan Graziano, the issues could stem from the fact that Myles Garrett already signed his deal, accepting every stipulation asked for by the Cleveland Browns, including many scenarios that allow the team to void Garrett’s guaranteed money.
In the words of one agent, Garrett "agreed to everything," meaning he signed a contract that includes a structure and a number of clauses that many of the players picked behind him don't want in their deals. And once the No. 1 pick agrees to something, it gets tougher for the Nos. 2 and 3 picks to argue that their deals shouldn't have it.
Should Titans fans be worried about this situation?
I think not. While it’s never ideal for a rookie to miss any days in training camp, we haven’t quite reached the panic stages. There are still seven days, and I would be hard-pressed to come up with a higher priority for Jon Robinson right now than getting his first draft pick of this year under contract.
We’ll continue to monitor this situation, but for now, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about with Davis.