The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed seven of their nine draft picks thus far and while their third round pick, linebacker Sean Spence, is expected to sign sometime this week or next, it could end up being a little longer before first round pick David DeCastro is under contract.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the hold up is likely because of a wait to see which team draws the line in the sand first in regard to fully four-year fully guaranteed contracts for the players drafted near the end of round one.
As Florio points out, last year the first 20 picks received four-year, fully-guaranteed contracts and Indianapolis Colts lineman Anthony Castonzo, who was drafted 22nd overall, had three of the four years guaranteed of his rookie deal. Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor, the 21st overall selection last year, came to terms on a deal that made more than half of his fourth-year base salary guaranteed, with the remaining balance shifted to a roster bonus due on the first day of the 2014 League Year.
Agents are doing their best to try to pull the four-year guarantee line deeper into round one now. Last week the Chicago Bears signed Shea McClellin, the 19th overall pick, to a fully guaranteed deal and next up are the Tennessee Titans and Kendall Wright, the 20th overall selection. Wright is expected to also get a fully guaranteed deal and the onus will then be on the New England Patriots to draw the line in the sand with the deal that they try to get done with their first round pick, Chandler Jones.
Should Jones and his agent succeed at getting a fully guaranteed deal, the buck will continue to pass down to the next pick and so on until a team decides to play hard ball and draw the line between three and four year guaranteed deals.
As a comparison, Cameron Jordan, who was the 24th overall selection last year by the New Orleans Saints, received a four-year $7.73 million contract of which just three years were guaranteed. That deal included a $4.12 million signing bonus. It figures that DeCastro will receive a deal very close to that of Jordan and it should only have three years guaranteed as well. Until DeCastro is boxed out of a four-year guarantee though by a contract ahead of him, he will likely remain unsigned.
Despite the delays, DeCastro should be signed well before training camp gets underway.