In recent years, it seems that the Bears are one of the first teams to get all of their draft picks signed to contracts in a swift and easy manner. Two years in a row, the Bears have been the first team to sign all of their draft picks. This year, though, it’s been very quiet on the rookie contract front. As Brad Biggs points out, this time last year Chicago had five rookies signed already, while this year we have none under contract so far. To be fair, it’s been quiet all around the NFL, not just in the Windy City, as Biggs states.
It’s been slow going around the league getting draft picks done, unless you’re the Miami Dolphins with four in hand already, or the Atlanta Falcons with quarterback Matt Ryan on board. You can get any selection signed with a $72 million, six-year contract. What’s the challenge in that negotiation?
There are a few ideas floating around as to why it’s been quiet on this front. One is that the Dolphins did some player-friendly deals earlier this week when they signed running backs Jalen Parmele (6th round, Pick 10, 176 overall), Lex Hilliard (6th round, Pick 38, 204 overall) and defensive lineman Lionel Dotson (7th round, Pick 38, 245 overall). The Dophins had some wiggle room with their rookie pool after signing No. 1 pick Jake Long to a five-year deal instead of a six-year contract, and consequently signed these three late-round picks for a little more than the slots were projected to get.
Agents are going to take these deals and run with them, using them as a basis for their own negotiations with other late-round selections. Hilliard was drafted four slots ahead of Bears’ defensive end Ervin Baldwin. Dotson was selected within three slots either direction of three Bears’ picks—linebacker Joey LaRocque, offensive tackle Kirk Barton and wide receiver Marcus Monk. Eventually the marketplace will be better defined, but it’s going to take a little time.