It's been a busy spring for lawyers in the NFL. Teams have signed draft picks at a blistering, even record pace. This piece at ESPN explains some of the reasons behind the accelerated work to get rookies under contract. Whatever the reasons for speed this offseason, the Rams are one of six teams yet to sign any of their draft picks. Why?
Last year the Rams made 3rd round pick OT John Greco their first rookie from the '08 draft with a contract. That happened on June 12. This year, I suspect the front office overhaul has created some delay in contracts, as well as conversations with OJ Atogwe, who's contract issues need to be resolved soon. Another question surrounding the Rams draft pick deals, particularly the guys drafted in rounds 3 through 7, is whether or not the team will shift from the Shaw/Zygmunt three-year rookie contracts to the more standard four-year contracts for late picks. Rams new contract man Kevin Demoff has always been a four-year guy, and uncertainty about the CBA makes four-year deals more attractive for their extra year of security. With that, I think it's safe to assume the Rams will start offering four-year deals to late round picks this year, but we won't know for sure until they actually sign one.
I thought it might be interesting to see whether or not the players drafted around the Rams picks' have signed deals, since that information reveals much about the slotting system used in the late rounds and offers a guide as to what kind of contracts the Rams rookies will receive. I went back and forth about whether or not to include a contract prediction. Notoriously waffly when it comes to gambling (DO NOT sit at a black jack table with me), I hesitated, but then thought, "To hell with it...I've got nothing to lose." So here's the late round pick predictions. I'm also going to assume the Rams embrace the four-year contract.
Round Three, Iowa CB Bradley Fletcher, 66th pick
An odd numbered round, the Rams had the second pick (66th overall) pick, shocking almost everyone by taking the under-the-radar Fletcher. Jets RB Shonn Greene, another Iowa player, was the first pick of the round, and he signed a four-year deal worth $2.655 million with a $905,000 signing bonus. The Chiefs have yet to sign the third pick from that round, but the Bears signed the fourth pick, DT Jarron Gilbert, to a four-year, $2.49 million deal with a $740,000 signing bonus.
Greco, the second pick of the third round in 2008, signed a three-year, $1.794 million contract with a $644,000 singing bonus.
Prediction: Fletcher signs a four-year deal worth $2.59 million with an $800,000 signing bonus. Reports from spring practices speak well of Fletcher, and few would be surprised if he doesn't see playing time in the nickel this year.
Round Four, Clemson DT Darell Scott, 103rd pick
The third pick of the fourth round, neither of Scott's immediate draft slot neighbors (with the Chiefs and Browns) have signed. The closest player in the draft order to Scott that has signed a deal is Bears DE Henry Melton, who inked a four-year, $2.261 million deal with a $511,230 signing bonus. The last pick of the third round, Giants TE Travis Beckum, signed a four-year, $2.363 million deal with a $611,000 bonus.
Last year, the Rams signed CB Justin King, the second pick in the fourth round, to a three-year, $1.526 million deal with a $376,000 signing bonus. King signed on July 23, 2008. Keenan Burton, another, later fourth round pick, signed on July 4, 2008.
Prediction: Scott signs a four-year, $2.29 million deal with a $570,000 bonus.
Round Five, North Carolina WR Brooks Foster, 160th pick
After swapping picks with the Falcons in the Laurent Robinson trade, the Rams had the 160th pick, the 24th selection of the round. Eagles OT Fenuki Tupou signed a four-year deal, but details have yet to be disclosed. The Dolphins signed 25th pick TE John Nalbone, to a four-year, $1.923 million contract with a $173K signing bonus. The 22nd pick, Redskins LB Cody Glenn, signed a four-year, $1.925 deal with a $175K bonus.
In 2008, the Rams signed G Roy Scheuning, the 157th pick, to a three-year, $1.278 million deal with a $!28K bonus. He signed on June 11, 2008.
Prediction: Foster signs a four-year, $1.9236 million deal with a $173,600 bonus.
Round Six, West Texas A&M QB Keithh Null, 196th pick
No player within two draft slots of Null has singed, except for Eagles WR Brandon Gibson, 194th pick, but his contract has yet to be disclosed. The closest pick with accessible contract info to sign from the sixth round is Giants DB DeAndre Wright, the 200th pick. He signed a four-year, $1.842 million deal with a $92K bonus.
The Rams did not have a sixth round pick in 2008, traded away.
Prediction: Null signs a four-year, $1.848 deal with a $93K bonus.
Round Seven, Texas RB Chris Ogbonnaya, 211th pick
The Falcons signed DT Vance Walker, the first pick of the round, to a four-year, $1.817 million deal with a $66,730 bonus. The Chiefs have yet to sign the third selection from the last round, and the Eagles have yet to disclose details for the fourth selection. The fifth selection, Dolphins LB J.D. Folsom, signed a four-year, $1.8132 million deal with a $62K bonus.
Rams seventh round pick LB Chris Chamberlain to a three-year, $1.186 million deal with a $36K bonus on July 20, 2008. I'm leaving out Vorbora's deal since it's irrelevant (ha! get it?) to this prediction.
Prediction: Four years, $1.816 million with a $66,000 bonus.