DBN Mailbag: Trent Richardson and 'Offset Language', and the Upback [Part 1]

Jun 12, 2012; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) works beside running backs coach Gary Brown during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

We are less than a week away from the start of training camp, and a bunch of questions filed in overnight. In part one of this week's mailbag session, I look at what "offset language" means and why it is holding up Trent Richardson's contract, who the team's upback could be on special teams, and whether Colt McCoy could start in Week 1 if Brandon Weeden holds out.

Note: Part two of our mailbag session can be found here.

Brian: "Hey Chris. Can you explain what this 'offset language' is that's causing players to wait to sign their contracts? I've tried to research this myself and it just confuses me."

Chris: "In the event that a team cuts a player before his four-year contract is up, the offset language attempts to save money for the original team that signs a player. For example, let's say that Trent Richardson signs a four-year deal worth $20 million. Perhaps Richardson looks so pitiful as a running back at the NFL level (remember, this is a hypothetical), that the Browns decide to waive him after his third year of play. Let's assume that Richardson was scheduled to make $5 million in guaranteed money for his final season.

Now, let's say another team signs Richardson during his fourth year in the league with a contract worth $8 million. If the offset language was in Richardson's contract with the Browns, then Cleveland would be completely off the hook for that $5 million. If the offset language is not in the contract, then Richardson would get both Cleveland's $5 million and the other team's $8 million. In essence, this would be double dipping.

Agents would love their players to have contracts without the offset language because it allows their clients to double dip. In the end, it's not really a big deal. Sure, you've had some exceptions like JaMarcus Russell only lasting three years in Oakland, but most high draft picks are going to remain with their team for four years. "

Jay: "I was curious to hear your thoughts on Travis Benjamin being opposite Joshua Cribbs in the return game. It could be some variation of the reverse or 'Music City Miracle' if we get in a pinch later in the game. This could also include Norwood in place of one or the other. Thanks."

Chris: "I assume that you are referring to the upback on kickoff returns, and I don't think either of those guys will take on that role because they'd be expected to block. Right now, I expect Brandon Jackson to be the team's upback. He has experience as the Packers' kickoff returner, and last year, he took reps as the upback during training camp. He might not have the speed to pull of your 'Music City Miracle' or a reverse, but we sometimes go multiple seasons without seeing a team attempt those type of plays. If the team is in desperation, they can insert a speedster in there for that particular return or as a decoy."

Pominder: "If the Browns can't work out a contract with Brandon Weeden quickly and Colt runs first-team offense during training camp and preseason games and looks great while Weeden looks out of place, what are the chances that Colt could start the first game of the season?"

Chris: "My prediction is that Weeden would have to miss at least two weeks or training camp and perhaps two exhibition games before the team even considers starting Colt McCoy in Week 1. I don't think we'll have to worry about Weeden getting signed in time. The front office knows how important Weeden and Richardson are to the team this year, and they aren't going to risk having them miss valuable practice time."

Note: Part two of our mailbag session can be found here.

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