Weekend mailbag: Pre-draft signing rules

April, 14, 2012
4/14/12
11:04
AM ET
You e-mail questions, I answer them. Ideally, you come out of this weekly exercise informed and/or entertained. We'll see.

Scottie Baker from Berrian Springs, Mich., asks whether, if the Colts are able to sign the player they're taking with the No. 1 pick (presumably Andrew Luck) before the draft, would the Washington Redskins then be able to sign the player they want to take at No. 2 (presumably Robert Griffin III) before the draft as well.

Dan Graziano: No, Scottie, they would not. The NFL's rules stipulate that the team holding the No. 1 pick is the only team allowed to sign its draft pick in advance of the draft. So if the Colts were to do a deal with Luck, say, sometime next week, that would not give the Redskins license to negotiate a deal with Griffin. They'd have to wait until after the Colts actually formally selected Luck on April 26 to officially pick Griffin, and until then they would not be permitted to sign Griffin. I imagine this rule is in place to avoid a slippery slope that could theoretically result in everyone in the top 10 signing their picks well in advance of the draft and depriving the NFL of the pomp and pageantry of its draft night. But it is, in fact, a rule. I checked.

KD from Cleveland wants to know how the re-signing of Derek Landri will affect the Philadelphia Eagles' plans for the first round of the draft. Specifically, he wants to know if Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd
could enter the picture.

DG: Well, Floyd could enter the picture, and it will surely be tempting for the Eagles to secure another weapon for Michael Vick and the offense. But I personally don't think the Landri signing will or should affect the Eagles' first-round plans. The Eagles were one of the worst teams in the league last year defending against runs up the middle, and they can't do enough to strengthen the middle of their defensive line. A longer-term solution at defensive tackle in the first round is the best way for the Eagles to go if they can't (as it appears they won't) get Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. I think the Eagles should be willing to move up or down a few spots to get the best bang for their buck in the first round, and I think that means drafting defense.

Alan from Arlington, Va., wants to know why the Giants couldn't pay $1.25 million to keep Dave Tollefson from signing with the Raiders.

DG: The Giants are right up against the salary cap, and in the case of Tollefson they decided they didn't want to pay more than the veteran minimum to keep him. They've decided, in the cases of several of their own free agents this year, to set a price over which they would not go and then allow the player to go see if he could get more on the open market. This is why they have lost Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham to the 49ers and why Jonathan Goff did not re-sign. They also made a decision to trade for Keith Rivers to improve their linebacker corps, and at the time of the trade he was scheduled to earn $2.16 million in 2012 (though they were working on a restructuring in the immediate wake of the deal). Figuring in the Rivers pursuit and the money they'll need to sign draft picks, the Giants had to be willing to let valued veterans like Tollefson and Jacobs go if they weren't willing to accept the exact amount the team had allotted for them. The Giants also trust in their ability to replenish positions of need from within their own roster or through the draft.

Jed from Texas has a PUNTER QUESTION!!! He wants to know why the Dallas Cowboys haven't signed Mat McBriar and if they're really going to go with Chris Jones as their punter.

DG: Well, Jed, as much as we value punting on this blog, it's not necessarily a major priority for teams in the early weeks of free agency. McBriar had some serious health questions last year, and it's perfectly understandable if the Cowboys want to make sure those are behind him before committing any real money to him. If Jones isn't the answer, then McBriar or another more acceptable option is likely to present itself some time between now and the start of the season. I think they can and will do better than Jones, and McBriar may well be the solution. But they should make sure his foot is fully healthy before making that decision.

Back next week with more mailbag fun. See ya.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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