There was a time when rookie contracts took quite some time to get done. Back when agents could negotiate whatever they felt their client was worth and contracts didn't get done until the ones at the top were signed. It was cause for a great many holdouts such as Raiders former number one overall pick JaMarcus Russell's holdout lasted into his rookie season in 2008 along with current Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree who was selected by the 49ers at 10th overall in 2009.
Those days went bye bye with the new CBA which has been in affect for the past five drafts. Many believe Russell's long holdout, huge $60 million contract, and subsequent busting out of the NFL was the breaking point that pushed the league to take action. Now rookie contracts are more like you'd expect from an unproven talent and much of the overall contract figures are already slotted before the player who will be getting that salary is even chosen.
Now we ask 'what's the hold up?' and it's still May.
Last Friday the Raiders signed sixth round pick Cory James which meant six of their seven draft picks are under contract. Just third round pick Shilique Calhoun remains. So, why, if these rookie deals are so slotted, wasn't Calhoun's deal done that day as well?
Recently ESPN's Mike Reiss noted that despite the fact that 75% of this year's class is now signed, just 15 of the 35 third round picks are among them. And there is a good reason why that is.
One NFL salary cap man relayed that third-round negotiations have proven to be more challenging than other rounds in recent years. The reason is that first- and second-round picks can receive a maximum of 25 percent allocation of a team's rookie salary cap, but because the third round doesn't max out at 25 percent, there is often debate over what the correct percentage should be. That has created a situation where the third round has been the spot in the draft where some agents are pushing for more annually, such as the inclusion of workout bonuses in the deals.
Well, there you have it. Unlike other rounds, the specific details in the third round contracts isn't already decided. There is something to negotiate. And whenever there is negotiation to be had, it will take a bit longer.
But as stated before, it's still May. The contract could get signed any day, with no reason for any concern until training camp approaches in late July.