New Orleans Saints training camp is almost upon us, with the team’s rookie players reporting for their first day of work on Tuesday. Veteran teammates will join them next week, and the first real Saints training camp practice session will soon follow, with nine dates open for fans to pack the sidelines and take it all in.
But there’s one bit of housekeeping left to attend to: officially signing second-round rookie Alontae Taylor to his first NFL contract. Taylor is the only Saints draft pick to not yet sign his standard four-year rookie deal, with NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill reporting back in June that there’s been a holdup in negotiations — either in offset language (determining how much the Saints are liable to pay should Taylor be cut and join a new team) and the amount of guaranteed money, specifically in base salaries for future seasons.
That’s not too surprising. Most first-round picks receive a fully-guaranteed four years, and most players picked early in round two get the first three years guaranteed. Taylor, who was selected right in the middle of round two at pick No. 49, happened to fall at an inflection point between players who get some of their third-year salary (the 2024 season) guaranteed, and those who don’t receive any guarantees past their second season (in 2023).
For example, the player selected right after him at No. 50 (New England Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton) didn’t receive a a guaranteed salary in 2024. That’s likely a point of context the Saints are using to avoid guaranteeing Taylor the money his agent is pushing for. It’s in the team’s interest to only guarantee the first two years of his deal (in case things don’t work out and they part ways by 2024), and it’s in Taylor’s interest to push for at least some guarantees in 2024 to give himself some more security.
But this is pretty low-stakes as far as NFL contract negotiations go. The delay in getting Taylor to sign won’t impact the Saints salary cap situation in any significant way. Things like per-year salaries and signing bonus figures are tied to draft slots under the latest collective bargaining agreements, so these later-year salary guarantees are one of the last remaining points that teams and players can engage in back-and-forth talks on. With Taylor back in New Orleans for camp, both sides will feel some incentive to bridge the gap and put pens to paper. Look for a resolution in the near future.