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Vikings do about-face on offset issue, hold firm with Kalil

Matt Kalil

Minnesota Vikings NFL football rookie tackle Matt Kalil is shown during minicamp Wednesday, June 20, 2012, in Eden Prairie, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)


Last year, the Vikings gave multiple draft picks guaranteed money with the offset language removed. This year, the Vikings have gone the other way, insisting on full offset language for all draft picks.

Per a source with knowledge of the negotiations, the Vikings want offset language in the contract offered to left tackle Matt Kalil, the fourth overall pick in the draft. The Vikings are pushing the issue even though the player taken in front of Kalil (Browns running back Trent Richardson) and three of the five players taken behind him have avoided the offset duty completely. (The player taken directly after Kalil, Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon, presents a different set of circumstances given his post-draft DUI.)

The Vikings’ position seems unusual. Left tackle has a lower bust rate than every other position in the first round, and even if Kalil is a bust he’ll be better than any other options the Vikings have or may have over the next four years, barring a trade or an unlikely entry into free agency. So why not fully guarantee his contract with a commitment that, in the unlikely event he’s cut, the Vikings will still pay him the full amount of the deal if he plays for someone else?

Last year, the Vikings gave all players taken in round two and thereafter partial guarantees in 2012 with no offset language. Though the guaranteed dollars weren’t as big as what Kalil will receive, it’s strange to see the only team that dumped offset language beyond the first round in 2011 become one of the only teams at the top of round one in 2012 to insist on offset language.

In fairness to the Vikings, the Dolphins are believed to be pushing the offset issue with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the eighth overall pick in the draft. Still, the Dolphins apparently aren’t expecting Tannehill to waltz right in and start. The Vikings are expecting Kalil to be their left tackle in 2012 and beyond, protecting their 2011 first-round pick, quarterback Christian Ponder.

So why not simply assume Kalil will be the left tackle through 2015 and fully guarantee the contract with no offset?

We understand the philosophical aversion to double dipping. But with the fourth pick getting far less than what the Vikings would have had to cough up two years ago (actually, two years ago it would have been hard for the Vikings to trade out of the No. 3 position, forcing them to pay even more), there’s nothing over the long term to be gained by taking a stand on an issue that likely will be irrelevant.