One month ago tonight, Commissioner Roger Goodell repeatedly made the slow walk to the podium at Radio City Music Hall to announce each of 32 first-round draft picks.
Over the three-day period, 254 rookies were drafted. As of Friday, 157 of them had signed their first NFL contracts.
The trend flows directly form the 2011 labor agreement, which has streamlined dramatically the process of doing rookie deals. Apart from the question of whether offset language will be added to the fully-guaranteed compensation paid to the players taken at the top of the draft and certain marketing considerations that bogged down the Andrew Luck talks last year, there’s nothing to negotiate.
Still, there’s a potential downside. As Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com pointed out last year, players who get money in May have more time to spend it. The guys who sign their rookie contracts in late July launch straight into training camp and the preseason and the regular season and they don’t have the same opportunity to squander any of their cash.
That’s not a problem for most of the guys being picked high in the draft. Only four of 32 first-round picks have agreed to terms, and only one in the top 10. Many are watching the Dolphins and defensive end Dion Jordan at No. 3, given Miami’s refusal last year to drop offset language from quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s contract.