A significant number of third-round picks have yet to ink their rookie contracts, and SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan has a potential explanation. The reporter tweets that these rookies’ agents are requesting a fully compensated four-year deal.
Specifically, agents want to max out base salaries (while adhering to the 25-percent limit). Front offices apparently aren’t giving in; there are currently 26 unsigned third-round picks (h/t to John Glennon of Broadway Sports on Twitter). For comparison’s sake, there are eight unsigned second-round picks and zero unsigned fourth-round picks.
This trend may have been inspired by Nico Collins. The Texans rookie wideout ended up inking the “fully compensated” four-year deal. The Michigan product was the 25th pick of the third round (No. 89 overall), so it’s easy to assume that most of the players taken before Collins are pushing for a similar contract.
That 25-percent rule is the true crux of the staring contests between teams and agents. Per NFL.com, the rule states that “[u]nless a player’s base salary is set at the minimum every year, no team can sign a player to a contract that would give him a raise of more than 25 percent annually. So, the second year of the contract can’t provide a salary more than 25 percent of the first year, and after that, each subsequent year can’t offer an increase of more than 25 percent of his previous year’s salary.” The difference between that aforementioned “minimum” third-round contract and the hypothetical “maximum” third-round contract is about $500K for the life of the contract, a significant sum at that point in the draft.