Friday, June 14, 2013
What it takes to get rookies signed
By Bill Williamson
There are fewer than 50 unsigned draft picks in the NFL and just five in the AFC West.
The rookie contract format from the new collective bargaining agreement has taken away one of the silliest summertime NFL traditions: the rookie holdout. There will likely not be any extended holdouts this year, including in the AFC West.
The San Diego Chargers are guaranteed to have all of their rookies at training camp on time. Their entire draft class is signed. The only unsigned rookies in the division are Kansas City tackle Eric Fisher, Denver defensive tackle Sylvester Williams and a trio of Raiders: cornerback D.J. Hayden, tackle Menelik Watson and quarterback Tyler Wilson.
The interesting negotiations will likely be Fisher’s, Hayden’s and Wilson’s.
Fisher was the No. 1 overall pick, so his agents may want to wait until the other top picks are signed just to make sure nothing odd happens that precludes him from being the highest paid rookie. But it shouldn’t be a problem because the slotting system is pretty well adhered to.
Hayden’s deal could take some time because of his medical issues. He recently had stomach surgery to repair scar tissue stemming from a life-threatening heart surgery he had last November. Hayden is expected to be completely ready for the start of training camp. But I wouldn’t be shocked if there is some medical protection written into the deal as a precaution.
Wilson’s contract is a bit more complicated than a typical fourth-rounder's because quarterbacks often get premium deals. There is also a chance that Wilson could play this season. So, there could be some contingency language written into the deal.
Again, none of these contracts are going to be overly difficult to complete. They may simply require more dialogue than most rookie contracts.