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Friday, April 27, 2012
What first-round picks can expect

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

One of the best things about the NFL’s collective-bargaining agreement that went into place last year is that rookie salaries are pretty much slotted.

There’s some room for negotiation, but not much. You can pretty much look at the contracts last year’s first-round picks got and project what this year’s first-round picks will get. Just add a few dollars here and there because the salary-cap increased only slightly and that trend is expected to continue the next few years.

First-round picks are slightly different than players in other rounds. They can sign five-year deals, while players taken later can’t sign anything longer than a four-year deal.

So let’s take a look at what Tampa Bay’s Mark Barron and Doug Martin and Carolina’s Luke Kuechly can expect to earn.

Barron, a safety from Alabama, was taken with the seventh pick by Tampa Bay. Defensive end Aldon Smith went No. 7 to San Francisco last year. Smith got a four-year deal that averages $3.596 million per season. He also got an $8.97 million signing bonus.

Kuechly, a linebacker from Boston College, went at No. 9 to Carolina. Offensive tackle Tyron Smith went in that same spot to Dallas last year. Smith’s four-year contract averages $3.124 million a season and he got a $7.588 signing bonus.

The Bucs traded back into the first round to take Martin, a running back from Boise State, at No. 31. Defensive end Cameron Heyward went in that same spot to Pittsburgh last year. Heyward’s contract averages $1.677 million a season and he got a $3.376 million signing bonus.