- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – How much does Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones like Ronald Leary? Enough to guarantee the undrafted free agent guard $214,000 in signing bonus and base salary in 2012, according to NFL Players Association figures.
It’s a staggering amount of money for a player with a knee condition that worried the Cowboys – and other teams – so much that he wasn’t selected. The Cowboys liked what Leary was able to do in the organized team activities and minicamp and gave him some snaps with the first-team offense at times.
The Cowboys paid Leary a $9,000 signing bonus and guaranteed $205,000 of his $390,000 rookie base salary. If Leary does not make the team, then he would still get his money. The Cowboys had to fend off at least one other team from signing Leary, who was projected as a mid- to late-round pick if not for the injury.
The guaranteed money falls in line with what Indianapolis’ Josh Chapman received as the top pick of the fifth round with a signing bonus of $215,512. Danny Coale, the Cowboys’ fifth rounder and No. 152 overall, received a signing bonus of $190,052.
Leary wasn’t the only undrafted free agent to receive a guaranteed portion of his base salary. The Cowboys will pay wide receiver Tim Benford $20,000 and long snapper Charley Hughlett $10,000. Wide receiver Saleem Hakim received the highest signing bonus among the college free agents at $10,000 and will also receive $7,500 in base salary.
Teams were limited in how much signing bonus they could give their undrafted free agents, which meant a number of teams also offered portions of guaranteed salary to entice players to sign.