The Oakland Raiders came to terms with the eighth-overall pick in the draft, Rolando McClain. Although having a player signed who was selected just two spots ahead of Jaguars defensive tackle Tyson Alualu is a good thing, the fact that the Raiders once again overpaid may muck things up for the Jaguars.
Seemingly every season as training camp arrives, the Jacksonville Jaguars are hopeful to get their first-round pick signed, sealed and delivered. Unfortunately, the team wasn’t able to have its top pick in camp on time again.
Negotiating deals for first-round draft picks is a difficult task for both the players’ agent and NFL franchises, as neither side wants to break form, form being the slotting system. If an agent takes less money for his client, even if his client is more than willing to do so, it can affect the agent’s career negatively as one of his or her main purposes are to get their clients the most money possible.
Money is tight these days and even though NFL franchises are multi-million dollar corporations, they don’t want to pay a nickel more than they must to get their unproven rookies (who have up to a 45% bust rate) signed. Thus begins the waiting game. Teams and agents alike negotiate, but don’t pull out their big guns until other draft picks in the first-round begin to sign.
Both sides are always afraid that the deal they offer and accept will not bear what the market calls, one way or the other. Without a salary cap and the great unknown which is a lack of a collective bargaining agreement, putting together deals for first-round draft picks has never been tougher.
“I think we all understand that it’s a little bit unique this year,” Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said regarding first-round pick Tyson Alualu’s situation.
In this year’s movie version of Jaguars training camp holdout 101, Tyson Alualu plays the role of the “greedy” first-round pick (even though he’s just trying to get a deal that’s been deemed fair) and the team gets to play the role of “Scrooge” as they are counting their nickels. Neither side is wrong and all anyone wants is a resolution to this yearly issue.
“I think we’ve taken steps as an organization to make sure that we have something out there that gives him an opportunity that is going to be treating him fair and giving him a chance to come in and join his team, so hopefully it’ll get resolved shortly,” Del Rio stated.
So how do the Raiders figure in to this? The eighth-overall pick, linebacker Rolando McClain inked a deal with better than $23 million in guaranteed money from Al Davis and Oakland. Last season, the Jaguars picked in the same slot and were able to come to terms with offensive tackle Eugene Monroe on a deal with approximately $19.2 million of guaranteed cash. McClain received more than a 22 percent increase over last season’s figure which is much higher than the customary increase (quarterbacks not withstanding). To give an example, Eugene Monroe’s deal included only an 11.6 percent increase over his same draft spot from a season ago.
The Jaguars will certainly be looking to offer Tyson Alualu a fair deal, but what’s fair to them may not be fair to Alualu and his agent. Last season, the 10th overall draft pick, Michael Crabtree ended up receiving approximately $17 million in guaranteed money after a lengthy holdout. A 12 percent increase over that amount would pay Alualu approximately $19 million. If he and his agent are looking for the 22 percent increase that Rolando McClain agreed to, it would amount to approximately $20.75 million guaranteed.
With both sides justified in their stances, the Raiders handling of Rolando McClain’s contract added more space between the likely negotiation points of both sides. In simple terms, the Raiders likely made the compromise much more difficult to achieve for the Jaguars and plenty of other teams in the top half of the draft.