Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blackmon Has an Incentive to Avoid Problems; His Future Contracts Will Likely Be the Ones to Include Mega-Paydays

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blackmon Has an Incentive to Avoid Problems; His Future Contracts Will Likely Be the Ones to Include Mega-Paydays

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino

In the wake of his aggravated DUI arrest last Sunday, Jaguars first-round pick Justin Blackmon has millions of reasons to play well and avoid problems in the future.

But it's not the first contract he figures to sign that is most at risk if the receiver doesn't put this incident behind him.

It's future contracts that have the potential to include mega-dollars.

Under provisions of the collective bargaining agreement, the parameters for rookie contracts are so structured that there is not much wiggle room.

The four-year deals for the top picks are guaranteed, with an option for the fifth year, and such things as escalator clauses and voidable provisions aren't allowed.

The first eight players drafted, including top pick Andrew Luck and Blackmon, haven't signed, but they are all expected to sign before training camp begins.

Despite the arrest, the odds are that Blackmon will still get a deal similar to the one Patrick Peterson of Arizona got in the fifth slot last year. Peterson's four-year $18.429 million deal included an $11.9 million signing bonus.

The difference is likely to be the Jaguars will insist on language that would enable them to recover some of the signing bonus if Blackmon has problems in the future.

Peterson's first-year base salary was the $375,000 minimum, and the base salaries for the last three years totaled $6 million.

It would probably be counterproductive for the Jaguars to give Blackmon a contract below the slot because it would seem to indicate a lack of confidence in him. They can protect themselves with language tied to his conduct.

Besides, the big money for top picks these days is in their second contract, if they perform well.

For example, receiver Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions recently got a seven-year, $132 million deal, and receiver Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals got an eight-year deal for $120 million.

Even if Blackmon doesn't reach that goal, the carrot for him if he plays well, becomes an elite receiver and has no more off-field problems, will be a mega-contract. …

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