With just 10 days left until players report to Latrobe, the Steelers still do not have their top two draft picks under contract as of yet as Maurkice Pouncey and Jason Worilds remain unsigned. Should that be of a concern? Absolutely not as Vladimir Ducasse of the Jets remains the only player signed of any of the draft picks selected in the first two rounds of the 2010 draft. The biggest factor right now with the 1st and 2nd rounders is the uncertainty with the NFL and the CBA. Players and agents are wanting big deals and owners are wanting not to over pay. When the dominoes start falling, they should fall quickly once agents and contract negotiators have a ceiling and a floor of a couple picks ahead and behind where their player was selected.
The Steelers currently have a pretty good string going with having first rounders signed and in camp on time. 2009 marked the fifth consecutive summer, the Steelers opened up training camp with their first-round draft choice under contract. Last year Ziggy Hood came to terms 6 days prior to reporting day, but it seems it will be cut much closer this year. Pouncey is currently under investigation by NCAA officials for a potential rules violation that allegedly occurred this past December in which a representative of an agent allegedly paid him $100,000 between the Gators\’ loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game and their season-ending Sugar Bowl victory over Cincinnati. While not affecting his NFL status, it could either speed up or slow down contract negotiations with the Steelers, whichever way you choose to look at it. Last years No. 18 selection in the 2009 draft, Robert Ayers, signed a five-year, $18.34 million contract with the Broncos that included $9.7 million in guaranteed monies. The contract for Pouncey will indeed be slightly more than that, but will likely include more options and escalators. Steelers chief contract negotiator, Omar Khan, has a way of doing business and I expect this year to be no different. Talks between Khan and Pouncey\’s agent Joel Segal really haven\’t even begun yet according to sources, but that should all change by this weekend.
The Worilds deal should come together fairly quick as well once talks get heated up with agent Scott Smith. The Steelers just need a starting point just ahead of Worilds to sign and a four year deal should come together quickly and will likely total out at around 3.75 million or so. If it takes a little longer with Worilds, it is not as big of deal as he is not competing for a starting spot like Pouncey is. With the injury to tackle Willie Colon and the need to perhaps shift Trai Essex to a tackle position, the Steelers have a gaping hole at right guard. A hole expected to be filled by Pouncey and any camp time lost is golden. Segal could very well use this to his advantage in negotiations with the Steelers, but I have a good feeling Pouncey is in on time. It might come down to the 11th hour with both, but the clock seems to tick in the Steelers favor where draft picks are concerned as of late. Let\’s hope it continues again just one more Summer.