Albert Breer of the Boston Globe reports that the Patriots have been in contract talks with unsigned first-round pick Devin McCourty "on a daily basis for more than two weeks now." McCourty, the 27th overall selection in April's draft, is represented by Andy Simms of PlayersRep sports agency.
According to Breer, the holdup between Simms and the Pats is the placement of McCourty's option bonus. For first-round rookies like Donald Brown and Clay Matthews last year, the option bonus was placed in the deal's second year, or on the first day of the subsequent "League Year."
Option bonuses allow NFL teams to compensate rookies according to draft slot without dipping into the current year's rookie pool. However, they are not guaranteed. Therefore, agents must make sure their clients aren't at risk of losing the future earnings. With a lockout possible in 2011, the option bonuses may be jeopardized.
As we recently explained, the option bonus phenomenon is one of the reasons for the absence of any first-round deals.