Times have changed: Bengals rookie holdouts no longer a concern

USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals, like all teams in the NFL, no longer have to worry about first-round holdouts. Even with 22 unsigned first-rounders, those players will be signed by training camp thanks to the CBA.

Currently ten players selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft have signed contracts, leaving 22 unsigned. Luke Joeckel, Jacksonville's first-round pick and the highest draft pick (No. 2) signed at this point, inked a four-year deal worth $21.2 million last month. Compare that to the 2009 NFL draft when the St. Louis Rams selected offensive tackle Jason Smith second overall, securing him to a six-year deal with $33 million guaranteed and a maximum value of $61 million.

Times have changed.

Though a handful of draft picks selected outside of the first-round remain unsigned, the bulk of those are currently from the first round. Tight end Tyler Eifert, selected No. 21 overall, is among them.

Here's the point.

It's all a non-story.

Thanks to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was signed in 2011, most of the guesswork regarding rookie contracts is gone. Everything is slotted with the remaining issues being how much of the contract is guaranteed.

Due to the much-needed revision, the Cincinnati Bengals haven't experienced a first-round holdout since Jermaine Gresham in 2010. And by that point, we had come to accept (though intensely irritated) that first-rounders were going to be holdouts, ranging anywhere from a couple of days to an entire month.

A.J. Green was the first Bengals player selected in the first-round following the new CBA. He's also the first Bengals player selected in the first-round that signed his rookie contract prior to the date players are required to report for training camp since Carson Palmer, who was selected and signed two days prior to the 2003 NFL draft. Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall signed around the same time that training camp began, with the latter only missing one practice.

Last year, returning to normal offseason deadlines and dates, the Bengals signed both of their first-round selections in May, over two months prior to the start of training camp.

Year Player Pick Length of Hold Out
2012 Kevin Zeitler 27th Signed 65 days before Training Camp
2012 Dre Kirkpatrick 17th Signed 72 days before Training Camp
2011 A.J. Green 4th Signed two days before Training Camp
2010 Jermaine Gresham 21st Held out 5 days
2009 Andre Smith 6th Held out 30 days
2008 Keith Rivers 9th Held out 10 days
2007 Leon Hall 18th Missed a practice on the first day of Training Camp
2006 Johnathan Joseph 24th Signed first day of camp.
2005 David Pollack 17th Held out 19 days
2004 Chris Perry 26th Held out 11 days
2003 Carson Palmer 1st Signed two days before the NFL Draft.
2002 Levi Jones 10th Signed first day of camp
2001 Justin Smith 4th Signed one day before first regular season game.

Eifert remains unsigned, but it's a non-issue. Eifert isn't worried. Neither are the Bengals. A contract may not be signed today or even this week, but there's no concerns about a rookie holdout. Those days are over.

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