What’s the issue with Brandon Weeden’s contract?

The reports started a few days ago that the Browns and Brandon Weeden were at an impasse in contract negotiations. The issue at hand appears to be the 4th year guarantee. The new NFL slotting rule for rookies has worked pretty well overall, but the fourth year guarantee has become the biggest point of contention. As Mary Kay Cabot pointed out in her article, it was the main issue that held up Phil Taylor’s deal as the 21st pick a year ago. Brandon Weeden was the 22nd pick, so what’s the big deal? It seems that from 21 to 22 is where the precedent is currently being set, in a way.

I looked up the 22nd pick from a year ago, Colts offensive lineman Anthony Costanzo, and I came across this from Andrew Brandt at Forbes.

As for the picks below Clayborn,  the 21st pick, Phil Taylor of the Browns, has a contract similar to those mentioned above, while the 22nd pick (Anthony Costanzo, Colts), 23rd pick (Danny Watkins, Eagles) and 24th pick (Cameron Jordan, Saints) just gave up their quest for the fourth year and have agreed to have only the first three years guaranteed.

The Browns, it appears, truly are at the forefront in terms of setting precedent with Brandon Weeden. Technically, the Browns already could be viewed as the team giving up ground a year ago when they finally gave in for Phil Taylor at 21.

Is it possible that in league circles they are being pressured to hold the line on the guaranteed fourth year? Are the Browns truly holding the line because they happen to have picked a 28-year-old QB who isn’t a typical rookie age? There are certainly more questions than answers right now and only the Browns and maybe Weeden’s representatives know for sure.

If it was up to me, I would just go ahead and give him the fourth year. Generally speaking, quarterbacks are their own category in the draft anyway. Everyone, from media, players, agents and team executives expect there to be some kind of small premium for that position in terms of compensation. That being the case, go ahead and get Weeden signed up for a fourth year. If some other team wants to fight it out with their 22nd pick in a future year, let them have at it. NFL teams are already ahead of the game with the new rookie wage scale.

Consider that Tim Tebow was picked 25th in 2010 and has a very complicated incentive-laden contract. His agent would tell you it is worth up to $33 million. It isn’t worth anywhere near that much, but consider that Tebow’s cap hit number is $3.072 million for 2012 and $2.085 million for 2013. It could escalate thereafter if he hits playing time marks, etc. Upon being traded he was paid $6.275 million. Obviously I think the money was worth it because Tebow knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs, but that’s neither here nor there.

Brandon Weeden is quite obviously going to get the nod to be the starter in Cleveland. He is a mature guy and probably isn’t going to sweat a lot of the details and business wrangling like another rookie might. Still, every guy has his breaking point. Hopefully the Browns don’t hold the line too hard to the point that it’s counter-productive. The rookie rules are now in favor of teams. To pretend like they have to battle to the ends of the earth on a fourth year for a first-round draft pick is counter-productive.

  • Sign him (with the 4th) today. This is the last thing we need.

  • Natedawg86

    Sign him, get him to camp, make him happy, lose the distractions. It is easier for a position player to miss a little camp and still figure things out. Not the case with the QB. GET IT DONE Brownies!

  • flashbacks of brady quinn.

    while i know his performance once he got game time were sub-par, i also think that if he’d been in camp he might have been able to step in for frye instead of anderson. who knows, maybe he’d have won the romeo coin-flip. being able to break in with low expectations would’ve done wonders for him and who knows how quinn wouldve turned out if he’d ever been able to play with the same confidence/leadership he showed at notre dame.

    anyhoos — yes get him in camp. you drafted him to be your quarterback this year. dont screw around. ‘penny wise, pound foolish’ comes to mind.

  • Harv 21

    “He is a mature guy and probably isn’t going to sweat a lot of the details and business wrangling like another rookie might.”

    You could make the opposite argument. He’s already been spit out by the machinery of one professional sport and understands how fragile his money-earning potential is. If it doesn’t work here, doubtful he’ll end up with stating QB money elsewhere. If I were him I’d hold onto that 4th year with all ten fingers.

  • There is absolutely no rush to sign him until the day before camp begins, the Browns are going to wait it out to see if #20 or #22 picks bite first. It’s just business. Chill the f out people.

  • Steve

    The problem from what I’ve heard, is that he wants the 4th year, but the last guy to get the 4th year guaranteed was the 16th pick. So he’s pretty far behind that, and the Browns are prolly thinkin “no way” and his agent is prolly making the case that “he’s a qb he’s different”.

  • Adrian Claiborne’s deal last year is 4 years guaranteed, Taylor was slotted right in the middle.

  • Bryan

    there is no evidence that i have seen that the negotiation is going unusually poorly. i see no reason to believe he won’t be in camp on time. if he isn’t, then we have a story. until then, it seems to me that the media is just board.

  • The new slotting system also has NOTHING to do with position. Bradford in 2010 got his enormous deal because he was a QB, same with the Tebow numbers. The purpose of the new CBA is to avoid contracts like that.

  • Bryan

    “bored” not “board”

  • 100% correct, if he’s not signed July 25th, then we have a problem. It’s July 2nd.

  • floydrubino

    Your telling me there is no way to make a contract that has an option for 4th year to take care of this. He is going to be the starter and you signed Jake delhomme for 8 million and your going to do this to your future(since you picked him at 22 he has leverage now). Regardless he is going to be with this team for the next 4 years barring injury so if he ends up being good this will end up being a bargain because at the end of his 4 year contract he will be 33 and have less value than if he were 27. Get him signed as quickly as possible to start off on right foot. Oh no it sets a precedence for the other teams. Who cares it’s a quarterback. Of course it is a unique situation when it is a qb.

  • saggy

    i just don’t get it. The Browns say “THIS IS OUR GUY!” yet they are afraid to give him a 4th year. People say it’s just business. Well, “just business” is not good when it interferes with the product on the field.

    that being said, i fully expect the Browns to capitulate by camp. Maybe even a compromise of easy-to-reach incentives. Like if he starts 8 games or throws 6 touchdowns in year-3 his 4th year vests automatically.

  • mgbode

    don’t be taking away our fool’s gold year of DA.

  • mgbode

    or make his 4th year partially guaranteed. i agree it’s a bit silly, but I’m guessing it’s just that neither side feels the urgency to get it done. i think it’ll be done by training camp.

  • Weeden is no fool; he sees the revolving door of QBs and is nervous, with very good reason. Who knows how Pat’s “offense” will evolve under Chilly? Maybe it’ll be a dynamic attack, emphasizing the strengths of their roster while minimizing the potential errors of repetitive play-calling and players out of position.

    Hmm…sometimes I say very wishful things.

  • waiting4nextyearfan4life

    Is discussing a contract counter-productive a month before he needs to be in camp? Is it counter-productive to say you might not have that much business savvy if you just want to throw out a 4th year in a league with a salary cap? Is it counter-productive to point out that Trent Richardson is also not signed, yet both Richardson and Wheeden publicly say they can’t wait to start camp? It was counter-productive to write this comment much like it was counter-productive to read this poorly written post?

  • ya know.. the 90 seconds of game time before halftime of that bengals game.. and DA might still be QB and romeo might still be HC.

    good lord. this game. 19 points in 2nd qtr holds up with the playoffs on the line.

    cannot believe this was 2007. feels like yesterday.

  • mgbode

    it was the last time the Browns had a winning record. (need a beer to cry softly into. the extra salt makes it better)

  • He came to cleveland to be ruined just as every quarterback since the Browns came back in 99.

  • faithfulbrownsfain

    Not willing to give Weeden, a first round quarterback, a 4th year…. This is why the Browns always dwell in the Basement!!!!