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Phil Taylor, Browns find middle ground on guaranteed money

Phil Taylor

Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor responds to questions during a news conference after he was selected as the 21st overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the NFL football draft at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, April 28, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)


The new rookie wage scale dramatically has reduced the topics for negotiation in first-round contracts. But in the second half of round one, the question of whether the full four years of the contract will be guaranteed has spawned an unexpected rash of holdouts.

The new labor deal specifically places no limit on the amount of the rookie deals that may be fully guaranteed. As a result, a lot of the first-round contracts have been fully guaranteed. Given the dramatic reduction in the value of those first-round contracts, many teams (including the notoriously frugal Bengals at No. 4, who rarely get a first-rounder in camp on time) haven’t blinked on the issue of whether to guarantee the full amount of these much lower deals.

In the bottom part of the round, the Bucs’ decision to give defensive end Adrian Clayborn at No. 20 a fully-guaranteed four-year deal coupled with the Seahawks’ decision to guarantee only the first three years for offensive lineman James Carpenter at No. 25 created a standoff at No. 21, No. 22, No. 23, and No. 24.

When Eagles guard Danny Watkins accepted only three years of guaranteed money at No. 23, Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan was boxed in at No. 24. When Colts offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo took (we’re told) three years of guaranteed money at No. 22, the last man left in the sandwich was Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor, at No. 21.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Browns and Taylor found a middle ground. More than half of Taylor’s fourth-year base salary is guaranteed, with the balance shifted to a roster bonus due on the first day of the 2014 League Year. Thus, the Browns will have to essentially guarantee the fourth year in early March. If they don’t, then Taylor will have a maximum opportunity to find a new home.

In all, Taylor’s deal is worth $8.1 million over four years.

The last three holdouts are at No. 17 through No. 19, where Pats offensive lineman Nate Solder, Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget, and Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara, respectively, aren’t signed. In that direction, however, the issue isn’t simply whether the contracts will be fully guaranteed. It’s whether Clayborn’s ability to overshoot his allocation will trickle uphill to Amukamara at No. 19 -- and then in turn whether it will continue to Liuget at No. 18 and Solder at No. 17.