Projecting First-Round Contracts For The Cincinnati Bengals

Apr 27, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals first round draft picks Dre Kirkpatrick and Kevin Zeitler hold up their jerseys during the press conference at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was signed last year, rookie contracts are no longer a drawn out process that threatens a player's development deep into training camp. There are no more $50 million guarantees, contractual holdouts and every selection during the 2012 NFL draft is slotted much earlier than ever before. There is a projected price range for each player and we're going to address one of Cincinnati's first-round selections in detail.

Boiling down the potential contract for first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick, we're required to incorporate previous deals made at No. 17 (last year) as well as the ceiling and floor from this year's draft.

Nate Solder, the No. 17 selection during the 2011 NFL draft, signed a four-year deal with the New England Patriots worth $8.54 million and a $4.71 million signing bonus. Since No. 16 pick Quinton Coples hasn't signed a deal with the New York Jets yet, we have to drop another slot to set the ceiling. The Seattle Seahawks signed defensive end Bruce Irvin at No. 15 to a four-year deal worth $9.342 million, fully guaranteed and a $5.23 million signing bonus. The San Diego Chargers signed Melvin Ingram, selected at No. 18, to a four-year contract worth $8.39 million with $7.61 million guaranteed and a $4.54 million signing bonus. That gives us the floor.

A quick snapshot.

Selection/Player Years Total Signing Bonus
Last Year's No. 17 (Nate Solder) Four $8.54M $4.71M
This Year's No. 15 (Bruce Irvin) Four $9.32M $5.23M
This Year's No. 16 (Quinton Coples) Unsigned
Dre Kirkpatrick (Projected) Four $8.5M-$8.8M $4.8M-$5M
This Year's No. 18 (Melvin Ingram) Four $8.39M $4.54M

Kirkpatrick won't receive less than what Ingram signed for this year or Solder from last year. Taking the higher of the two, we can assume that Kirkpatrick's deal will be more than $8.54 million with a higher signing bonus than $4.71 million. Coples (No. 16 with New York) will receive more than Kirkpatrick (obviously), but less than Irvin.

If we make a wild guess on what Cincinnati's No. 17 pick will sign before this year's training camp, we project Kirkpatrick signing a four-year deal worth something in the neighborhood of $8.5-8.8 million, just shy of a $5 million signing bonus with most of the contract being guaranteed.

But if it's in that neighborhood, why isn't he signed already? Good point. Some believe that there will be a holdup on contracts with mid-to-late selections in the first round due to guaranteed numbers and bonuses. It's not enough to worry about any perceived holdout, but may take a little longer to file those contracts compared to the early signings we've seen already.

Just to wrap up this file for the time being, the Green Bay Packers, who selected Nick Perry at No. 28, have already set the floor for Cincinnati offensive guard Kevin Zeitler, selected one pick earlier at No. 27. Green Bay signed perry to a four-year deal worth $7.5 million with $6.4 million guaranteed and a $4 million signing bonus.

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