Why Did It Take So Long to Sign Second Round Picks?

The Minnesota Vikings had two second round selections in the 2022 NFL draft: Clemson DB Andrew Booth Jr (no. 42nd overall), and LSU G Ed Ingram (no. 59th overall). Both took until mere days before the beginning of training camp to sign their contracts and officially join Minnesota’s Roster. This wasn’t a purple exclusive problem, as other second round draft choice’s contracts were signed recently, such as Bears safety Jaquan Brisker. The big question is why it’s happening, and why it’s a great thing for future second round players.

  The answer lies in the contracts themselves. It’s not like draft picks don’t want to be signed by the teams that drafted them, most of the time anyways. It has more to do with the big buzz word of NFL contracts since Kirk Cousin’s first contract under Minnesota, the amount guaranteed. Since that contract was signed, it set a massive precedent among other NFL contracts in which free agents and players negotiating extensions would more or less prioritize the amount of money they’d be seeing regardless of any clauses or team options. A massive step forward for the NFLPA and a step towards fair, or at the very least transparent compensation for players.

  In general, NFL contracts have to be some of the most complicated and loophole filled contracts in all major sports. Sure, across the pond there are some rather interesting clauses included based on player demands in the other version of football, but the NFL as a league negotiates and writes contracts in a very complex way. In the NBA, you can sign for a four-year, $68 million contract, and barring a trade or release, a player will receive all $68 million dollars across those four years, regardless of if it’s back-loaded or front-loaded. The NFL however, has massively different contract setups.

  A four-year, $68 million contract in the NFL isn’t a promise of $68 million, it’s a promise that said contract can reach $68 million based on clauses, bonuses, incentives, etc. What’s more likely is base salary adds up to something around the $50 million range, maybe lower or higher, all you need to remember is that total amount isn’t anything to write home about unless it’s followed by the now infamous term, fully guaranteed. These contracts are set up this way in order to be more flexible under the salary cap, something that seems to be one of the most divisive elements in the process of roster construction in the modern NFL. Teams like the Los Angeles Rams seem to be ignoring the salary cap altogether while other teams struggle to abide by its rules. 

  Now let’s bring it back to our second round draft choices. The main thing they’re requesting in their rookie contracts is more guaranteed money in the third year of their contracts in order to set a better precedent in the future for second round contracts. This is motivated by players but also agents as more money in the contract for the player means more money for the agent. They want that trend of guaranteed money in future client’s contracts to become a normality to better line their own pockets, but it’s important to remember that the players are going to benefit from this regardless.

  Nobody should fault these players for wanting to better secure their future under these contracts. What should be remembered is that they still signed, they still made it to training camp, and no one’s being negatively affected by this. It’s about time rookies are more fairly compensated for their work, and hopefully players that are drafted in later rounds eventually share the same fate. It’s often overlooked how rookies are given an unfair shake in contracts because of limitations and stigmas. I’m not necessarily saying rookies should be paid insurmountable money, but paying an NFL level athlete at the rates they are seems baffling.

  Don’t panic about players waiting until nearly the deadline to sign these contracts, it was for a good cause and they eventually signed anyway. The players will still play, and they’ll be playing under contracts that they deserved. Here’s to hoping they play up to expectations.