As of May 17 eight of the 32 NFL first round picks had already signed contracts, including two of the top ten. This is actually a fairly large pre-June number. NFL.com has reported that with the new rookie wage scale, a staggering number of players are signing much more quickly than they used to.
What choice do they have, really?
The new scale requires four-year contracts with a fifth year option for first round picks and even provides guidelines for what each player should earn given his position in the draft.
Essentially the way it works is the NFL designates a pool of money for all NFL rookies (last year’s number was $874M) and then divvies it up to each team. Teams that have more (and higher) picks (like Cleveland) receiver more of the pool than teams that have fewer (and lower) picks (like New Orleans).
Teams then use their allocated money to sign draft picks, bonuses and incentives are included in this.
According to this article in the Journal-Sentinel, one agent who has completed a deal with another team said:
It took me about 5 minutes to get it done.
This is way different than just a few years ago when Matt Stafford was getting Angelina-Jolie-post-Tomb-Raider type money. And it’s actually much cleaner and better — fewer lockouts, no more “why is Jake Long being paid in bullet-proof briefcases?” questions.
CBS has a cool list of all the teams and how much money they were allotted.
Interestingly, some teams hold on to their signing bonuses for longer so they can earn interest on the cash. Can you see Bill Belichick checking his E*Trade portfolio on a daily basis? “Come on Apple, split for me before we have to sign this massive idiot from Arkansas who thinks he knows how to play quarterback! Come on, Apple, come on!”
All that to say, things won’t have changed much from last year. As that CBS article states, the overall percentage increase for the rookie pool was minimal, the Browns just received a lot because they had a lot of picks. So you’ll probably see small upticks in the contracts of Weeden and Blackmon from their same slots last year. Something like this:
2011 5th pick – Patrick Peterson – 4 years, $18.5M
2012 5th pick – Justin Blackmon – 4 years, $18.8M
2011 22nd pick – Anthony Castonzo – 4 years, $8M
2012 22nd pick – Brandon Weeden – 4 years, $8.2M
Blackmon’s money (all $18M) will be guaranteed while Weeden’s will be about 75% guaranteed. Blackmon will get somewhere in the neighborhood of a $12M signing bonus (Ghost Recon for everyone!) and then be paid the other $6.8M over the next four years. Weeden will get about a $4.5M bonus and be paid the other $4M over the next four years.
Not as much as it once was, but still more money than you and I will ever have.
Unless Boone stumbled upon this somehow. If you’re reading, Mr. Pickens, happy birthday!