Business staredown: Deadline nears for outside offer to Browns' Gipson
Restricted free agent safety Tashaun Gipson deciding to pass on the start of the Cleveland Browns offseason conditioning program is not a surprise.
It's just business. It's just part of the negotation process.
The Browns placed the second-round tender on Gipson in March, just before the start of the league year. That means any team that signs Gipson to an offer sheet must be willing to surrender a second-round pick to the Browns if the Browns didn't match -- and the Browns can match any offer.
So, it's complicated. And it's been quiet regarding all things Gipson, whether it's with the Browns or any other team.
This Friday, April 24, is the deadline for another team to extend an offer. If nothing happens by then, Gipson knows he's playing 2015 with the Browns either on the tender or on a long-term contract the sides eventually work out.
Hence the business staredown.
Gipson led the NFL with six interceptions last season. He missed the last month of the season with a knee injury that's not considered major; there was a chance he'd have been able to return in January if the Browns still would have been playing.
He can sign his tender with the Browns at any time. That tender would give Gipson a one-year, guaranteed contract at a flat rate of $2.356 million. After 2015, he'd be eligible for unrestricted free agency.
The other option is to work out a longer deal with the Browns that would give both sides security and assurances. The Browns matching a transition-tag offer sheet written to Alex Mack by the Jacksonville Jaguars last spring means the Browns have Mack on someone else's terms. Mack has an opt-out in his contract after 2015.
Gipson is a home-grown player, a former undrafted free agent who's found a home and has been very good over the last two seasons. The Browns already have a bunch of money tied up in the secondary, though, with Joe Haden and Donte Whitner signing big contracts last year and the team bringing in veteran cornerback Tramon Williams in free agency this year at $7 million for 2015.
Given that it's not an especially deep draft class for safeties, maybe Gipson's camp thought an outside offer would come. Maybe one still will. But if it doesn't this week, the Browns and Gipson might have to sit down after the draft and work something out.
Or, maybe they won't. And maybe Gipson will use 2015 to bet on himself and the chance a big contract will come next spring.