NFC South: rookie pool

It’s pretty obvious what fourth-round draft pick Nick Toon can expect in a contract from the New Orleans Saints.

As the only unsigned New Orleans draft pick, Toon is looking at a deal that can’t be worth over $491,900 thousand this season and can’t exceed $3.18 million over the life of the contract. Those are the numbers for what the Saints have in their rookie pool for this year and for the life of the contracts for this year’s draft class.

The Saints already have used up $1.78 million of their league-low $2.272 million rookie pool for this year. They also already have committed $9.317 million over the course of their rookie contracts. Third-round pick Akiem Hicks got a four-year deal worth $2.68 million. Fifth-round pick Corey White's four-year deal is worth $2.276 million. Sixth-round pick Andrew Tiller's four-year contract is worth $2.212 million, and seventh-round pick Marcel Jones has a deal that could be worth as much as $2.148 million.

The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons long ago finished signing their draft classes. That leaves only Toon and Tampa Bay first-round pick Mark Barron as the only unsigned NFC South draft picks.

Since it’s been a few weeks since we touched on what the Bucs have left to offer Barron, let’s do a quick refresher course. The Bucs can pay Barron as much as $2.63 million this season and as much as $19.1 million over the entire course of his contract.
I just got a look at the details of the contract rookie running back Doug Martin signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday.

It’s worth as much as $6.788 million in total value with $5.472 million in guaranteed money Martin also received a $3.376 million signing bonus. As a general rule this year, the Bucs have given signing bonuses only to their rookies. When it has come to free agency, they have stayed away from signing bonuses and given big salaries in the first two years of the deal.

Martin’s cap figure for the season will be $1.234 million. In 2013, it rises to $1.543 million and jumps to $1.851 million in 2014. In 2015, the cap figure rises to $2.16 million. The Bucs initially announced that Martin signed a five-year deal, but contract records list it as only a four-year deal. It’s possible the contract includes an option year that is not included in the details.

The Bucs have $2.631 million left in this year’s rookie pool. Presumably, all or most of that will go to safety Mark Barron, who is the team’s only unsigned draft pick.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have $3.865 million left in cap space in this year’s rookie pool as they attempt to sign first-round picks Mark Barron and Doug Martin. They also have $21.628 million to divide up over the life of the contracts for Barron and Martin.

General manager Mark Dominik has said the Bucs will attempt to sign Barron and Martin to five-year deals. Only first-round picks can sign five-year deals, according to the new collective bargaining agreement that went into place last year. Barron and Martin are the only Tampa Bay draft picks who have yet to sign.

I just got a look at the breakdown of the deal signed by linebacker Lavonte David, who was drafted in the second round. His four-year deal is worth $3,471,732 and it included a $964,896 signing bonus. The deal also includes $1,363,896 million in guaranteed money.

David will earn $390,000 in base salary this year and his cap figure is $631,224. In 2013, David’s salary rises to $547,806 and jumps to $705,612 in 2014. In 2015, David is scheduled to earn $738,418 and can earn a $125,000 workout bonus.
We showed you the contract details for a bunch of NFC South rookies earlier in the week. I just got a look at four more deals, so let’s run through them.

Atlanta offensive tackle Lamar Holmes, a third-round choice, got a four-year deal worth $2.633 million, including a $533,600 signing bonus. Safety Charles Mitchell, a sixth-round pick, got a four-year deal worth $2.2 million, including a signing bonus of $101,672.

The Falcons have only fifth-round defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi left unsigned. It’s pretty obvious what he’ll make. The Falcons have only $432,215 remaining under this year’s rookie pool of $2.861 million. The total value of Massaquoi’s deal can’t be worth more than $2.882 million because that’s all the Falcons have left available for the full course of all their rookie contracts.

Tampa Bay linebacker Najee Goode, a fifth-round choice, got a four-year deal worth $2.307 million, including a $206,900 signing bonus. Cornerback Keith Tandy signed a four-year deal worth $2.2 million, including a $120,600 signing bonus.

The Bucs still haven’t signed their top three draft picks -- safety Mark Barron, running back Doug Martin and linebacker Lavonte David. But they have plenty of room left in this year’s rookie pool. They have $4.496 million available for this year. They also have $25.1 million left to spend over the course of all their rookie contracts.

Carolina already has signed all of its picks and came in just under the maximum allotment for rookie contracts. The New Orleans Saints, who didn’t have a pick until the third round and have the NFL’s smallest rookie pool, have yet to sign any of their draft picks.
In financial terms, two NFC South teams are swimming in very shallow rookie pools.

I got a look at the league-wide numbers for rookie pools (the amount of salary-cap space that can be used on 2012 draft picks this season. The New Orleans Saints have the NFL’s smallest rookie pool at $2.271 million.

That’s due to the fact the Saints had only five draft picks and none came before the third round. New Orleans traded away its 2012 first-round pick last year and had to forward its second-round pick as part of the punishment for the bounty program. Numbers for the rookie pool are determined by how many picks a team has and where those picks were located in each round.

Under the collective-bargaining agreement that came into existence last summer, each team also has a limit on the total value for the life of all the rookie contracts and the Saints are limited there as well. The maximum total compensation the Saints can pay their rookies over the course of their first contracts is $12.495 million. The Saints are the only NFC South team yet to sign a single draft pick.

The Atlanta Falcons aren’t far behind the Saints. They’re No. 2 in the NFL in terms of the smallest rookie pool at $2.861 million, narrowly edging out Oakland, which is No. 3 with a $2.862 million rookie pool. The Falcons were without a first-round draft pick because they traded it away as part of the deal to get Julio Jones in 2011. The Falcons also are capped at $15.736 million to pay their five draft choices over the course of their contracts. Atlanta has signed all of its picks except for fifth-round defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi.

The Carolina Panthers are somewhere right around the middle of the league with a $5.5 million rookie pool. The Panthers had seven draft picks. All of them have signed and the total value of their contracts is $29.293 million. That’s just about $700,000 less than the cap on what they could have paid all their picks over the course of their contracts.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had two first-round picks, have the division’s largest rookie pool at $6.166 million and the Bucs can pay their seven rookies as much as $33.9 million over the life of their contracts. Tampa Bay has signed all of its rookies except for first-round choices Mark Barron and Doug Martin and second-round choice Lavonte David.

But the Bucs aren’t even close to having the league’s largest rookie pool. That honor belongs to the Cleveland Browns, who had 11 picks and have a rookie pool of $9.7 million.

NFC South rookie pool numbers

July, 26, 2011
7/26/11
12:27
PM ET
Just got the 2011 rookie pool numbers for all four NFC South teams and wanted to share them with you before we get too deep into free agency.

Under the new rookie wage scale, each team has a designated amount to spend on its rookies. The formula to come up with that amount is based on the number of picks and where those picks were taken in the draft. Here’s the breakdown on the four NFC South clubs.
  • Atlanta: $5,052,827
  • Carolina: $7,132,452
  • New Orleans: $4,578,566
  • Tampa Bay: $4,789,294

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