The San Francisco 49ers reported for training camp Thursday morning, with veterans and rookies all taking physicals and undergoing conditioning tests. Only one person remains unsigned. First round pick Solomon Thomas missed all but one day of the offseason workout program, and while he has kept plenty busy getting ready for the season, his rookie contract remains unsigned.
General manager John Lynch said a deal is not yet done, but the two sides have had productive discussions over the past few days. He is disappointed they do not have a deal done yet, but he is hopeful a deal will get done so Thomas does not miss the first practice on Friday.
It’s unknown what is specifically holding up the deal, but the most likely reason for a holdout is offset language. Solomon Thomas would likely get a fully guaranteed contract. If a contract has offset language, that means if a player is released before his deal ends and signs elsewhere, his new salary offsets what the 49ers still owe him. If the 49ers still owed him $5 million and he was released and signed elsewhere for $3 million, the 49ers would only owe him $2 million. If there is no offset language, in that situation, Thomas would collect $5 million from the 49ers and $3 million from his new team.
There are very few areas of negotiation in rookie contracts, but even with a rookie wage scale, teams often look to save money wherever they can on the deals. We saw it last year with Joey Bosa, although the Chargers wanted to combine offset language with a deferred signing bonus. That is something most rookies don’t have to deal with, and eventually the Chargers gave in on that.
Thomas has the same agent as Joey Bosa, but there is no reason to think the situations are exactly comparable. We don’t know exactly what is going on behind the scenes in the negotiations, so we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out. Technically he has not reported on time, but with the team not getting on the practice field until Friday, there is a little bit of time left to get this done before the team hits the field.