The rapid completion of rookie contracts has created speculation that most if not all deals could be completed by Memorial Day, a stunning development given that, in past years, the process didn’t even begin until after the Fourth of July.
But it still could take a little time to get the deals done at the top of the draft, thanks to the traditional (but arguably outdated) process of waiting for other deals to firm up the slots.
On Monday night, Browns G.M. Tom Heckert said that the team has not had extensive negotiations with running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in the draft. “I think he wants to wait for some other [top picks to sign],” Heckert said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal. “They’ll all get done. It’s not a concern at all.”
It’s not a concern yet. But there’s no reason for any delay. In the top five, three of the players — Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III at No. 2, Richardson at No. 3, and Vikings tackle Matt Kalil at No. 4 — are each represented by CAA. It could be that CAA wants Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to set the ceiling at No. 1 and Jags receiver Justin Blackmon to set the floor at No. 5 before working out the deals for Griffin, Richardson, and Kalil in between.
It’s unclear when the dominoes will fall. For now, only nine first-rounders have signed: the ninth (Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly), 10th (Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore), 15th (Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin), 16th (Jets linebacker Quinton Coples), 17th (Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick), 18th (Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram), 19th (Bears linebacker Shea McClellin), 28th (Packers linebacker Nick Perry), and 32nd (Giants running back David Wilson) overall picks. Apart from the potential debates regarding guaranteed money at picks No. 20 and No. 21 through 25, there are limited areas for negotiation and disagreement.
While it’s still highly unlikely that there will be training-camp holdouts, speculation that all draft picks will be signed before the unofficial launch of summer will end up being more than a little overly optimistic, barring a rash of completed deals in the next few days.