The Cincinnati Bengals have signed wide receiver Cody Core to his rookie deal.
Core is now signed to a four-year NFL contract. Per Over The Cap, the total value of the deal is $2,467,932, an average of $616,983 per year. Core is the first of the Bengals' 2016 Draft picks officially signed.
It's not crazy to think Core decided to speed up this process after going down with a leg injury during Friday's rookie minicamp, though it was just cramping. Still, even that probably made Core want to sign his deal sooner.
Core, who was selected with the 199th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, played college football for the Ole Miss Rebels. While all the focus in Oxford was around Rebels receiver Laquon Treadwell this past season, Ole Miss had another quality pass-catcher in Core.
The 6'3", 205-pound Core caught 78 passes for 1,202 yards and 10 scores over the past two seasons in Oxford. In 2015, Core ranked fifth among SEC players and 33rd nationally with 17.4 yards per catch. He finished second on the team behind Treadwell with 644 receiving yards.
Throughout his four-year playing career at Ole Miss, Core played in 51 games, had 83 receptions for 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 25.4 yards per game.
Core played a lot of special teams during his first two years at Mississippi and Treadwell's presence on the team held him back a bit. A big reason why, was Core was a converted defensive back who only began playing receiver full-time in 2014. He finished with 21 tackles in his college career, 16 of which coming over his first two collegiate seasons.
Make no mistake about it: That background was part of why the Bengals took core over receivers like Southern Miss' Michael Thomas or Tulsa's Keyarris Garrett in Round 6, both of whom were rated as better prospects than Core.
It's also possible the Bengals think Core has more room to grow and develop than the other receivers on the board at that point in the draft. Either way, Core's ability to make an impact on special teams will get him on the team and active on gamedays this fall.
The Bengals love rookies, especially late-round guys, to be major contributors on special teams. They've gone as far as to spend picks on guys like James Wright mostly based on their special teams impact, so this pick was not surprising.
While getting Core in Round 6 wasn't a big move or huge steal, he was still a solid value pick at that point. Most draft analysts had Round 5-6 grades on him. ESPN's Mel Kiper had him ranked 117th overall coming into the draft, so the Bengals picking him with pick 199 seems like a good value. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein gave him a Round 5 or 6 grade. CBS Sports gave him a Round 6 grade.
Roster Watch did a nice draft profile of Core and compared him to some notable NFL receivers, noting that he's a physical guy, not afraid to go over the middle with bodies around him.
As for this year, expect Core to make the final 53-man roster and be one of the harder calls each week in terms of whether to be active or inactive.