Under the 2011 labor deal, new contracts for draft picks can be signed after three years in the league. Technically, the window opens upon the conclusion of the player’s third regular season.
With the end of the 2014 regular season, all 2012 draft picks are now eligible for new deals.
At the top of the list is Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. However, the Colts twice made Peyton Manning complete his entire contract before signing him to new deals. For Luck, it’s possible the Colts won’t break the bank until he has completed his four-year base deal and the fifth-year option.
Not taken in the first round but nevertheless significant when it comes to new contracts are Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner. With the Seahawks already extending linebacker K.J. Wright and defensive end Cliff Avril, the table has been set to focus on Wilson and Wagner. Both surely will want new contracts, even though they’re signed through 2015.
Look for the Seahawks to try to do Wagner’s deal first. Since Wilson’s will entail the most money, it makes sense to save the richest deal for last. Both deserve to be paid without waiting another year.
It’s unknown whether either player currently is clamoring for a deal to be done before the divisional-round playoff game. For the first time in their careers, the answer to “why haven’t they been financially rewarded?” is something other than “we’re prevented by the CBA from doing a new contract.” With the injury risk squarely on the players and the Seahawks theoretically in position to sign them to new contracts, it’ll be interesting to see whether Wilson or Wagner try to get something done before they suit up to face the Lions, Cardinals, or Panthers.
Other players to watch include Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David, Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, and Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Perhaps the bigger news is that there really aren’t a bunch of 2012 draft picks who jump off the page as being worthy of getting a new contract sooner than later.