Jaguars Reportedly Set a New Precedent with Tyson Campbell's Rookie Contract

The Jacksonville Jaguars have set a new precedent for rookie contracts with the guarantees the team gave the second round pick. It's part of a changing trend in the Jags organization to create player friendly contracts.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and second-round pick Tyson Campbell have reportedly set a new league precedent with the corner’s rookie contract.

According to Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, quoting a league source, the Jaguars gave Campbell guarantees in the fourth year of his contract. He is the first-ever second-round pick to negotiate such a deal.

Typically the top draft picks (high to mid-first round) are able to bank on getting guarantees throughout their entire four-year rookie deal. Over the years, that has begun to trickle down to the 26th pick then the 27th pick, so on and so on. Until now, when the Jaguars and Campbell started a new wave.

As Spielberger explained to Jaguar Report, “A second-round pick had never had any portion of the fourth year of his rookie deal; so not signing bonus, that’s fully guaranteed. We’re talking about salary in that fourth season is guaranteed at signing. So Tyson Campbell with the Jags 33rd overall pick, obviously, is the first guy ever in the second round to have some of his year four compensation guaranteed.”

The Campbell deal reportedly guarantees $50,000 in year four, which isn’t the full expected salary. But what stands out is the willingness to guarantee anything in year four to a second round player. The athlete taken in Campbell’s spot last year—the first pick of the second round, Tee Higgins to the Cincinnati Bengals—was given guarantees of 90% of his contract in year three and none of his fourth year.

That willingness from the Jaguars—coupled with a good agent—is what opened the door to the Campbell deal.

“He's with Athletes First which is a top agency, and they have strong negotiators. But it's also definitely, the Jaguars, yes they're confident,” Spielberger says. “They’re also, they’ve shown they're willing to kind of create some precedents for these rookie draft picks.”

Spielberger is a salary cap analyst for PFF, a contributor at Over the Cap and is a law school graduate. He spends his days in the weeds of these contract deals, and sees the new trend coming out of Jacksonville.

After years of what Spielberger refers to as “negative contract connotations,” the Jags are attempting to create a more player-friendly atmosphere, starting in the paperwork.

“It’s a showing of good faith, ‘you wanna sign here again, we’re pro-player, we’re player friendly and we want you to get the most compensation you can in early years and obviously the implication being we’ll reward you on your second contract.”

They’re doing this not just with Campbell’s contract, but with first-round pick, 25th overall, running back Travis Etienne. The former Clemson star reportedly signed a contract that contains no offset language. This is the norm with top first round picks, but at No. 25 overall, Spielberger calls the contention “unheard of.”

Offset language essentially means the club is covered if a guy is cut and then signs elsewhere.

“I'm going to give you a quick example of what that is. Basically say the guy has guarantees in his contracts, they are still subject to offset which means there's a—hypothetical example—a guy who signed a two-year deal and $1,000,000 of his salary is guaranteed the second year. If he gets cut after the first season, that team will owe him that $1,000,000 guarantee, unless it's subject to offset. 

"And then let's say that player signs elsewhere for $1,000,000 guaranteed and his salary in the first year—that deal gets offset, the team will not owe that player that money anymore. So they'll save the cash and then also they get a cap credit at the end of the season, saying this money was offset.

“So the Jaguars, they’ve always given their really high picks no offset language and now giving it to Etienne at 25 is definitely a precedent as well.”

The Jaguars have spoken in recent months about wanting to make Jacksonville a destination for players. That often refers to free agents, who have a choice in the matter. Draft picks don’t get a say in where they land, but as Spielberger referenced, structuring these rookie deals as the Jaguars are will help ease their rookies into the franchise.

And if nothing else, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Campbell may set a precedent for the rest of the league to now follow.

“I think next year the first pick in the second round will absolutely point to and say 'look, you got to give me some guarantees in the fourth year of the deal. Tyson Campbell got it last year so I should get it as well.’ And then next year maybe we'll see, you know 34th overall pick will try to get $25,000 guaranteed in year four, and so on and so forth and it maybe continues to grow.”