6:45pm: The deal has partial offset language, according to Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com (on Twitter).
6:35pm: Finally, it’s a done deal. The Titans announced on Tuesday night that they have signed rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.
“We are glad to have the deal with Marcus done, and I’d like to thank both Marcus and his representatives for their diligence in working with us to finalize this contract,” said Titans Executive Vice President and General Manager Ruston Webster. “We were confident that Marcus would be under contract before training camp, and we look forward to him starting his career on time with his teammates when we open camp next week. This is an exciting time for the Tennessee Titans organization, and we look forward to a bright future.”
Negotiations between Tennessee and the No. 2 overall pick went on much, much longer than anyone anticipated. Eventually, it came to light that the dispute stemmed from whether the contract would include offset language. As explained by Luke Adams of PFR last summer, offset language relates to what happens to a player’s salary if he’s cut during the first four years of his career, while he’s still playing on his rookie contract. For the top 15 to 20 picks in the draft, those four-year salaries will be fully guaranteed, even if a player is waived at some point during those four seasons. For example, if a player has $4MM in guaranteed money remaining on his contract and is cut, he’ll still be owed that $4MM.
However, if a team has written offset language into the contract, that club can save some money if and when the player signs with a new team. For example, if that player who had $4MM in guaranteed money left on his contract signs with a new club on a $1MM deal, his old team would only be on the hook for $3MM, with the new team making up the difference. If there’s no offset language on that first deal, the old team would continue to be on the hook for the full $4MM, and the player would simply earn an additional $1MM from his new club.
No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston didn’t force the issue on offsets, choosing instead to agree to a contract with the Bucs the day after he was drafted. Only one player selected in the top 10 – third overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. – has a deal without offset language.
In 2014, the Hawaii native directed the most efficient offense (23.5) in the country and led all quarterbacks nationally with a total quarterback rating of 90.9. Mariota finished the season ranked third among FBS quarterbacks with 4,454 passing yards and amassed 42 passing touchdowns, while rushing for 770 yards and 15 scores. The Oregon QB was regarded by some as the best signal caller in the draft, though the Bucs felt differently and selected Winston No. 1.
Now, only two draft picks remain unsigned: Colts cornerback D’Joun Smith and Colts defensive lineman Henry Anderson.