A few days ago, Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News explained what "offset language" is, which is currently holding up a deal between Lane Johnson and the Eagles:
We're talking here about an issue that seems almost moot, as an NFL team official noted yesterday. Offset language only comes into play when a player is released with time remaining on his contract. The standard rookie contract is 4 years. The issue would be, if you release a draftee after, say, 3 years, and he signs elsewhere, does he get the money you agreed to pay him, plus the deal from his new team, or is the money from the new team deducted from the total you owe him? You can only subtract the new contract from your team's obligation if you included offset language when your deal with the player was signed.
Yahoo's Jason Cole took the silliness of "offset language" and expanded, via a series of tweets, which I'll lump together for him:
Quick fact points out (the) uselessness of NFL teams seeking offset language on first round picks: There were 349 first rd picks from 2000-2010. Only eight were cut before their fourth season, when offset would apply. None of (the) 8 got much more than (the) minimum salary. So in (a business) where teams will spend nearly a half-billion on salaries (over the) next 4 yrs, teams are risking holdouts of best prospect to save about $600K. Maybe, that is, in the rare time that a player gets cut.
Agent David Cantor (who is not Lane Johnson's agent) chimed in on when he thought it is crucial to have high picks into camp:
For the Eagles, the first day in pads will likely be Friday. In 2011, Danny Watkins missed five days of camp, although the circumstances were far different as the lockout made for a very oddball offseason. Watkins was hurt by that missed time. Ideally, Lane Johnson will be at camp on Monday, although it's looking like that may not happen.
The new CBA was supposed to end this nonsense. We'll see...
Update: Dion Jordan signed his contract today. His deal included "offset language," which favors the Dolphins.