Lawson was easily one of the best pass-rushing prospects in this draft, while Malone was a play-making receiver in the mold of Marvin Jones. Drafting both of them with Round 4 selections was one of several reasons why Cincinnati is getting rave reviews for its draft class.
Not long after the draft ended, the Bengals got both players signed to their rookie deals. Because they were fourth-round selections drafted fairly close to each other (Lawson went 116th, while Malone went 128th), both will have similar deals with Cincinnati.
For Lawson, it’s a four-year deal which Spotrac has being worth up to $3,052,614. He received a $652,614 signing bonus that will be prorated into four installments of $163,153 during the next four years.
As for Malone, Spotrac has his four-year deal worth up to $2,999,241, including a $599,241 signing bonus prorated into four installments of $149,810 during the next four years.
Altogether, Lawson and Malone will combine for just over $1.2 million in cap space in their rookie years. Their combined cap hit will be around the $1.5 million mark for the remaining three years, so long as neither signs a long-term extension or gets cut at any point.
If either player is cut this year, the dead cap number will be around $600k. That number will shrink every year for the remainder of their deals.
It’s probably going to take the duration of Lawson’s rookie deal for the Bengals to find his best fit in the NFL, being that he’s been a 4-3 defensive end in college and is now playing 4-3 outside linebacker. Though, he figures to play at defensive end on third down, too.
As for Malone, he’s actually the only wide receiver other than first round pick John Ross who’s under contract through the 2020 season. By then, every other Bengals receiver will have had his current deal expire, including Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, Brandon LaFell and A.J. Green.