How can a player, who is slotted by the NFL’s rookie salary structure, still be holding out and not signed to the team that drafted him in May?
That might be the question on everyone’s mind in Jacksonville and second round wide receiver Marquis Lee continues to be one of only a few rookies to not have a contract signed, sealed and delivered. Training camp for the Jaguars opens in less than two weeks and a hold out or issues regarding the terms of a deal with the former USC star are not what the team needs as it continues the second season of rebuilding under head coach Gus Bradley.
All eight other draft picks are signed by the team, including Allen Robinson, the other wide receiver the team drafted in the second round this season.
A Florida Times-Union story by Ryan O’Halloran states Lee’s contract is slotted at a total value of $5,174,016 for four years, including a $2,082,924 signing bonus and a $940,731 salary cap hit this year.
Contacted via email earlier this week, Lee’s agent, Andrew Kessler of Athletes First, said he doesn’t “comment on ongoing contract negotiations.”
A veteran agent said Thursday that if Kessler is holding out for additional money that is out of the slotted range, he’s wasting his time.
The Jaguars are counting on Lee, Robinson and veteran Cecil Shorts to help a stagnant offense from last season and give veteran starter Chad Henne three solid options in the passing game.
As of Thursday, only four of the 256 draft picks remain unsigned: Cleveland cornerback Justin Gilbert (first round, eighth overall), Tennessee offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (first round, 11th overall), Lee (second round, 39th overall) and Miami offensive tackle Billy Turner (third round, 67th overall).
According to O’Halloran, Lewan and Gilbert, the hiccups could revolve around off-set bonuses, but for Lee and Turner, what gives?
Lee was present at the team’s rookie minicamp and the team’s OTAs and minicamp. He did spend most of the minicamp on the sidelines nursing a leg injury, along with six other wide receivers on the roster. It was once thought Lee would be in the starting lineup opposite Shorts, who is in the last year of his rookie contract. There is no word on whether the team will sign the fourth-year starter and leading receiver on the roster before the end of the preseason.
For now, the concentration is on building a solid receiving unit – which more than includes Lee. It is possible, according to an unnamed agent, that the contract is being held up over language that concerns workout money, but it should not hold up the deal. Another theory centers on bonus money. Lee’s camp wants his workout bonus – for example, $100,000, -- to not include the $195/day the collective bargaining agreement will require players in 2015 to be paid for attending the off-season program. (Lee wasn’t under contract for the recently-completed off-season so he will get none of that money.).
Some teams have the off-season program salary included in the workout bonus, which means about $5,000 less for the player.