Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Insider Reveals Why Caleb Williams And Rome Odunze Likely Haven’t Signed Yet


The Chicago Bears begin training camp on July 19th, meaning there are 12 days left. One big problem remains unsolved: Both of their top draft choices, Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze, still haven’t signed their rookie contracts. They won’t be able to participate in camp until that changes. People are wondering what the holdup could be. All but five of the 1st round picks from this draft class have signed. Rookie contracts are largely set before players even arrive in the NFL. There is little wiggle room for negotiation.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes the holdup is likely down to one of three possibilities. He listed them as signing bonus cash flow, voiding guarantees, and guarantee offsets.

“1. Signing bonus cash flow: How much of the signing bonus is paid up front? How much is deferred, and for how long? Players want the money ASAFP. Teams might try to push some of it out, by a year or longer.

2. Voiding of guarantees: What will it take to let a team wipe out the remaining guarantees? There have been issues in the past about suspensions for certain on-field infractions opening the door to erasing the guaranteed money. Players want to limit the team’s ability to un-guarantee the guaranteed cash. Teams prefer the flexibility to get out from under a bad deal.

3. Guarantee offsets: If the player is released with guaranteed money left, will earnings elsewhere reduce the money owed? The player prefers to double-dip. The team wants to get credit for salary from a new NFL franchise.”

This is something that has haunted the Bears in the past.

Roquan Smith supposedly had issues with the offset guarantee language in his contract, leading to a training camp holdout. Remember that Williams has no agent. He is representing himself, likely getting advice from his father and a team of business experts. With so much inexperience negotiating NFL contracts, it would explain the delay. As for Odunze, he’s represented by Excel Football. They’ve already closed deals for fellow 1st rounders Drake Maye and Troy Fautanu. So, his holdup is a mystery.

Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze don’t seem like stubborn types.

Both are mature and intelligent young men. It seems unlikely they’d raise a fuss over specific language in their contracts to such a point where they would hold out. Don’t forget both have already made lots of cash thanks to their NIL deals in college. They aren’t pressed for money like 1st round picks from five or ten years ago would’ve been. It is best to trust GM Ryan Poles here. He has a tendency to close deals before they become problematic. Montez Sweat and Jaylon Johnson are recent examples.

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He doesn’t seem like the type to panic in these situations. The Bears likely know the sticking points at this stage. It wouldn’t be a shock to hear both Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze have signed a couple of days before camp begins. The last thing the Bears want is a distraction, especially as they’re set to appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks. A holdout would be a massive embarrassment for the organization. It doesn’t seem likely they’d let some minor disputes over rookie guarantees derail the positive momentum.


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Jul 9, 2024 10:24 am

Jones On top of my take that I just posted, which i stand by, I will add that Chicago franchises do tend to be cheap as shit, which does not help in these matters.

Jul 9, 2024 10:22 am

My guess is that Caleb is demanding some kind of player option that replaces (or weakens) the standard fifth-year option that teams have on first-round picks. I think he wants to make $100m per year as quickly as possible, and the ability to functionally void the team’s option for the fifth year of the deal would allow him to monetize his second deal quicker. (This is all assuming he sticks in the league as a capable QB1, which is likely but not certain.) Like Caleb, I am not an attorney, so I don’t know if this is permissible under league… Read more »

Jul 7, 2024 8:18 pm

Well, if it’s not the players, then it’s the Bears, right? So what are they doing or not doing that other teams don’t or do? This is a front office issue that shouldn’t come up in year three of a regime. Come on, get this stuff fixed!

Last edited 1 day ago by Tred
Jul 7, 2024 7:32 pm

What I find odd is they fired cliff stein the long tenured contract negotiator just this past year? There was reports that he was the problem in a lot of the negotiations in the past. But now they can’t even shore up a couple of rookie contracts?? Not a good look bears! Get your shit together!!!

Jim Jones
Jul 7, 2024 7:10 pm

Whatever the reason, it’s still happening. No matter who the bean counters are at Halas Hall, contracts that should be as simple as they come are made perplexingly difficult. Every other team gets their picks signed first whether it’s 1994 or 2024. Hell, the modern rules took away over 90% of that first away from negotiating. The directive on the structure on these has to come from the McCaskey family for this to be a continual comedy of errors no matter who else is around them.

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