|Weeden and Richardson remain unsigned; Drew Carey has some thoughts on the Browns' chances in 2012. (Getty Images)|
Thanks to a collective bargaining agreement that includes a new rookie wage scale, 18 first-round picks have already signed contracts. Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, selected 22nd overall in April, isn't one of them. Since he's expected to be the Week 1 starter, both sides would like to get a deal done in advance of training camp.
So what's the holdup? Guaranteed money, a source tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. Turns out, it's the same issue that delayed the signing of defensive lineman Phil Taylor, the Browns' 21st overall selection a year ago.
The new wage scale means that haggling over the size of the contract is a thing of the past. Instead, the issue has become guaranteed money. Cabot writes that Weeden is in line for a four-year, $8.1 million deal, but he "is intent on the fourth-year guarantee as opposed to the three that many players late in the round receive."
"It'll get done,'' Weeden said Friday."We're working. It takes two sides, though.''
If the Browns don't guarantee the final year of the contract, Weeden might have to take a page out of Taylor's book and settle for some combination of guaranteed money and a roster bonus. If Weeden had been the 22nd pick a year ago, this wouldn't be an issue. Cabot writes:
Last year, picks one through 16 -- and No. 20 pick Adrian Clayborn of the Bucs -- received all four years fully guaranteed. This year, picks one through 16 received the four years and picks 17, 18 and 19 got the combo package. No. 20 overall pick Kendall Wright remains unsigned by the Titans, presumably because he's working off Clayborn's fully-guaranteed four-year deal from last year.
This year's No. 21 overall pick, defensive end Chandler Jones of New England, signed a four-year deal worth $8.17 million, but didn't receive the roster bonus in the fourth year that Taylor secured, according to profootballtalk.com.
Running back Trent Richardson, Cleveland's third-overall selection, is also unsigned (In fact, none of the top eight picks are under contract). The snag could be offset language, which, as Cabot notes, is another way of saying that if a player with a guaranteed contract is released, "the original team is off the hook for the portion of the salary paid by the new club."
Training camp is still a month off, but any success the Browns have in 2012 will be contingent on Weeden and Richardson being on the field. Fun fact: Cleveland native Drew Carey recently defined success as .500 football. "The Browns are gonna be 8 and 8 this year!" he said according to the Plain Dealer. This is the definition of the phrase, "soft bigotry of low expectations."
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