Delhomme’s shrewd move

A final word about the Jake Delhomme contract with the Panthers and (lack of) offset, as there have been many questions and erroneous reports about the lasting value of his this contract (the gift that keeps on giving).

To extend or not

Delhomme extended his contract with the Panthers last April prior to its final year. He was going to make $6.325 million in 2009 and, as part of his extension, that number did not change. The $12.675 million in remaining guarantee on the extension certainly had to be protected – and was – by Delhomme’s agents, since otherwise there would be no reason for the player to extend his contract as 2009 was unchanged. The Panthers were also cap-strapped due to the unwieldy number on Julius Peppers and other past decisions.

We can all debate the value of Delhomme as a player, whether back in April or now, but once the decision was made to extend his contract by the Panthers, there had to be sufficient consideration from the team for the player to make the deal. Otherwise he could play out the deal and become the top quarterback in the unrestricted free agent market in 2010. An offset of future guaranteed money would have devalued the extension signed by Delhomme significantly.

Offset requires language

As for an offset clause and its inclusion or omission in contracts: It needs to be written in. NFL contracts do not have automatic offset language; it would need to be detailed in the contract. For instance, as described here last week, Michael Vick’s $1M of guaranteed salary in 2010 has an offset clause, meaning if he’s released by the Eagles and signs elsewhere, the Eagles will get relief.

Delhomme’s contract in Carolina did not have offset language. Furthermore, it has language about how the guarantee is paid out were he to be released: The 2010 guarantee is paid through the upcoming season and the rest of the money is due March 1, 2011, at a present value rate according to the one-year Treasury Note rate published in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 1, 2011.

More shrewd moves by Delhomme

Delhomme’s value on the field can be debated, but he is certainly a savvy businessman. While the Browns were enamored with him as a potential starter, he captivated the staff during his visit with his Bayou charm and personality (I know, he did the same in Green Bay years ago when he made a visit as a restricted free agent). Setting that tone for the negotiation, he then resisted their overtures to sign a deal before he left the building.

Instead, Delhomme gave the Browns the perception that he was going to take more trips, including one to his former team and hometown Saints, who had a mutual attraction but not the financial level of the Browns.

Although he was obviously not going to compete for the starting job in New Orleans, Delhomme was able to create the perception that he would strongly consider an offer there. The Browns could have called the bluff but did not and paid him $7M for 2010, a number confirmed by both sides of the negotiation and that insures his position as their starting quarterback – or at least it should.

Contract breakdown

$1.5M signing bonus
$4.545 roster bonus on 3/20
$855,000 salary
$100,000 workout bonus

Was a trip to the Saints a realistic option? I think we know the answer to that. However, with the prospect of that visit, the Browns raised their offer, and Delhomme agreed to sign and not travel to New Orleans.

Well-played by Delhomme, who will make close to $20M in the next 12 months, almost the same as his former teammate and free agent prize of the 2010 class, Julius Peppers.

It’s good to be the recently terminated (his contract, not him) Jake Delhomme in 2010.

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