Monday, July 23, 2012
Browns, Steelers looking to avoid holdouts
By Jamison Hensley
As training camps are about to begin, three of the NFL's nine unsigned first-round picks are from the AFC North: Browns running back Trent Richardson (third overall), Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (No. 22) and Steelers guard David DeCastro (No. 24).
Richardson should be the first to sign out of this group. The top two picks in the draft, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, received no offset language in their deals (which can save teams money if the player is released and signs elsewhere), so the deal with Richardson should be straight-forward. He should sign a four-year, $20.4 million deal (which includes a $13.4 million signing bonus) over the next couple of days.
The situations with Weeden and DeCastro are trickier. Weeden presumably wants all four years of his rookie contract guaranteed. Most players drafted at the lower end of the first round have three years guaranteed and a partial guarantee for the fourth season. Defensive end Chandler Jones, the 21st overall pick in this year's draft, didn't get four years guaranteed from the Patriots, and defensive tackle Phil Taylor, the 21st pick in 2011, wasn't able to get that type of a contract from the Browns last year.
I don't see the Browns buckling on this demand because this would set a new precedent. This could mean talks will remain at a standstill for most of the week. The Browns' first full-team practice of training camp is Saturday.
DeCastro, who was selected two picks after Weeden, is likely waiting to see if Weeden receives all four years guaranteed before signing his deal. I don't foresee DeCastro waiting too long, though. It would be surprising to see DeCastro miss the Steelers' first training camp practice on Friday especially after Lions offensive tackle Riley Reiff (who was 23rd overall, one spot ahead of DeCastro) signed Monday.
The only other unsigned draft pick in the division is Bengals defensive tackle Brandon Thompson, a third-round pick. He is expected to sign before the Bengals open camp on Friday.