Arizona Cardinals rookie offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper was a holdout for the first day of training camp due to a reported contract dispute, according to Kent Somers of AZCentral.com. Rookie holdouts have been a rarity since the latest collective bargaining agreement established a rookie wage scale.
Instead of haggling over guaranteed money and overall value of a contract, the issue in almost all of these situations is now "offset language." Offset language refers to whether or not a portion of still-remaining guaranteed money is offset to a new team in the event that a player is released before his contract expires.
As explained by Somers, if Cooper was scheduled to make $1 million in the final year of his deal, but was released by the Cardinals and signed by another team for $800,000, Cooper would still make just $1 million rather than collecting $1.8 from both teams. With offset language, the Cardinals would only have to pay $200,000 with his new team paying the $800,000 so that Cooper is paid what he was originally guaranteed before release.
Player agents have to fight for whatever they can get with so little to actually negotiate at this point so offset language has become the new sticking point.