It's been 36 days since the 2015 NFL draft and there are currently nine unsigned first-round draft picks, according to the NFL.com tracker. Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi is one of those nine. Yes. We know. Ultimately, as long everyone is signed prior to training camp, this won't be an issue and it's only June.
Part of the ridiculousness with the old Collective Bargaining Agreement was that inflating contracts for rookies stumped teams starving for talent from applying meaningful solutions. Think about it. Investing tens of millions into a single player takes away from other players who could be acquired via free agency, or at the very least it placed a restraint on retaining core talent. Does it make sense for teams to pay a significant percentage on an unproven rookie, who will make far more money than most veterans who have half the talent but double the motivation?
Thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, that's all gone. Compensation levels are already predetermined and players generally know how much they'll be paid, based on where and when they're drafted. There is some wiggle room for negotiations; mostly the team-oriented offset language, allowing teams to recoup guaranteed money if a player is released and another team signs that player.
That's where the roadblock exists between quarterback Marcus Mariota, selected No. 2 overall, and the Tennessee Titans who drafted him. Per Pro Football Talk: "Because the first overall pick in the draft (quarterback Jameis Winston) signed a deal that includes offset language for the fully-guaranteed four-year deal and the third overall pick (linebacker Dante Fowler Jr.) agreed to a contract that has no offset language (allowing Fowler to get paid twice, if he gets cut), the question of whether Mariota’s language will include offset language could become a major sticking point," writes PFT.
The issue facing Mariota is a bit unique because of where he was drafted and the amount of money that would be tied to him if things didn't work out in Tennessee.
Unsigned defensive end Vic Beasley is in Atlanta taking part in OTAs. ESPN analyst Bill Polian believes negotiations are slow because of a guarantee for the fifth-year -- which is written as an option-year in the contract for first-round picks. Most of those deals are only guaranteed for injury. Offensive tackle Ereck Flowers is negotiating without an agent, keeping the three percent that representatives are allowed to charge. There are reasons why signings take time.
BENGALS FIRST ROUNDERS TAKE TIME TO SIGN
The Bengals generally don't sign their first-round rookies as quickly as other teams -- since there's no real rush to get negotiations hammered out anymore, what's the rush? In fact, since the 2012 NFL draft, players selected before and after the Bengals, signed their deals before the Bengals (the lone exception was Desmond Trufant in 2013).
|May 8, 2014||DE Dee Ford (May 24)||CB Darqueze Dennard (June 12)||DB Jason Verrett (May 29)|
|April 25, 2013||OG Kyle Long (May 17)||TE Tyler Eifert (July 15)||DB Desmond Trufant (July 24)|
|April 26, 2012||DE Whitney Mercilus (May 4)||OG Kevin Zeitler (May 25)||DE Nick Perry (May 11)|
|April 26, 2012||DE Quinton Coples (May 17)||CB Dre Kirkpatrick (May 18)||DE Melvin Ingram (May 8)|
CEILING AND FLOOR HAVE ALREADY BEEN ESTABLISHED
Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor (selected No. 20 overall) and Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree (No. 22 overal) have already signed, providing a visual range on how Ogbuehi's contract will be valued.
|20||WR Nelson Agholor||$9,377,374||$8,799,640||$5,079,908|
|21||OT Cedric Ogbuehi||?||?||?|
|22||DE/OLB Bud Dupree||$9,222,282||$8,631,570||$4,967,114|
Ogbuehi, who could be ready by training camp (per him, of course), is spending most of his time working on the side during OTAs this spring. He tore his ACL during the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 28, crushing his draft projections from a possible top-10 pick to the No. 21 pick overall. Even if the contract weren't signed and sealed relatively soon, it's questionable how effective he'll be in 2015.
Again, it's June. This won't matter until July 31 when the Bengals get together for training camp.