Brian Price's contract agreement earlier this week caught me completely off guard. Not so much that he signed or even the amount (
which we don't know at this point the St. Pete Times has released the info. Check here.), but just the timing. With no players in the top 64 under contract, Price become the highest draft pick to sign by a large margin. It's a testament to all parties involved, player, agent and team. Maybe the deal was too good to pass up by either side. Maybe Price realized that he could make his dream come true of playing professional football. Maybe he wanted to get into town, sign the deal, and start getting used to our wonderful heat and humidity (which is what he said). Either way, it's nice to have a high draft pick signed.
Now, there are other Tampa Bay Buccaneers not signed, but the biggest name by far is Gerald McCoy. With camp within reach, it becomes important for him (and really for all picks of any team) to get deals signed, get into camp and realize that it's a new game. McCoy has said he wants to wait and see what type of deal Sam Bradford signs with the St. Louis Rams before he puts ink to any paper.
Now, I see his rationale. Why take a deal that may end up being viewed as inferior when he can wait and see where the market is set. Usually players wait until deals are essentially slotted, letting the top picks sign and then extrapolating the numbers down based on what pick they were, position and such. So McCoy's logic seems to be sound from his point of view. However, I think most people will agree that holdouts rarely lead to better situations. I know McCoy isn't a holdout yet, but any player that holds out obviously isn't in camp, learning the system. They also may piss off the vets who have been around the block at a fraction of the price.
Of course, the team is incentivized to get the player into camp as soon as possible at the cheapest price possible. This makes sense. Why pay more if you don't have to? Now, if/when McCoy signs, lets not all jump around and throw a party and say that this proves that the Glazers are or aren't cheap. Yes, they could have not signed or picked McCoy. Yes, they could have said they wouldn't meet his demands. But lets be real. Are you really gonna draft a player who is a potential franchise changer and not sign him? Of course, if the deal turns out to be bad from a financial standpoint the "Glazers are cheap" crowd will show up, but if the team can get him into camp with a team friendly deal, this doesn't mean they are cheap, just that they were able to negotiate a good deal. I would caution anyone from reading too much into the deal McCoy may or may not sign.
The sticking point on contracts seem to be the new CBA (duh), the potential for no 2011 season and option bonuses. Some guaranteed money is pushed into season 2 of a deal and payable upon the first few days of the NFL calendar. With potentially no 2011 season (Year 2 for McCoy and cohorts), players are reluctant to structure contracts the same way. They could lose out on millions of "guaranteed" money.
There are also talks of the Rams trying to get Bradford to sign a much less expensive 3 year deal. Now, these are rumors and I'm certainly not tuned into the Rams negotiations, but this could throw a wrench into the process. Keep an eye on this situation as it sets the table for the rest of the draft.
We all hope to get McCoy in camp on time. Typically it looks hopeless until the day or two before camp and all the sudden, everyone gets in gear. It's part of the posturing on contracts. Lets hope that remains true for McCoy and the Bucs and that by the start of camp, he's cracking some heads in the pewter and red.