Jonathan Cooper, Arizona Cardinals first-round pick, has not signed his rookie contract. Rookies reported on Monday and are preparing for the arrival of the veterans on Thursday. Why Cooper hasn’t agreed to terms yet is unknown, but I have a theory: his agent, Todd France, feels like he has leverage and is trying to make himself look like Jay Z for next year’s class of rookies. It’s the great game that exists in professional sports and so shall it ever be.
But get to camp, rookie. Don’t let your agent tell you what to do. He works for you and the sooner you realize that in your career the better. The league has a legendary pile of examples at your disposal for you to reference and there’s very little wiggle room being a slotted pick. When you lose control of the spirit and intent of your negotiations, you lose control…period.
Offset language could be at the heart of this issue, and if that’s the case Jonathan Cooper needs to perform bypass surgery on his agent and get into camp by Thursday. The nature of deposing offset language is craven and, at its core, defeatist. “Offset,” in terms of player contracts, protects teams from having to pay a player the full amount of what they owe him if he ends up with another team. Removing this language from the contract theoretically allows a player to double-dip — to receive the full amount from the team that drafted him and then cut him AND to be paid in full by his new employer. The only way this language would ever be invoked is if Jonathan Cooper was released by the Cardinals before his rookie contract expires.
What are the odds the Arizona Cardinals are going to cut Jonathan Cooper before his rookie contract expires? He’s their first-round pick, number seven overall, and he plays offensive line, an area of need for Big Red. And that’s why the nature of this dispute is craven — unless you expect to be cut.
Agents need to advance their careers and are a necessary malevolence; I understand this and know they are trying to get the best deal they can for their clients. But keeping a rookie out of training camp for any length of time because you wish to protect him in case he doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain and play well is a logical fallacy.
Cooper will receive a four-year contract worth approximately $15 million. The only way he doesn’t see all of those dollars within that dispensation is to not work at his job, not be prepared, not be in shape, not play well, get cut and then sign with another team. Why should he be rewarded for that kind of production? Why should he be allowed to double-dip? After all, you are going to play well, right?
Get to camp, Jonathan, and set a precedent for your agent now.