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The draft is long gone. Training camp is still ways away. In between we have some OTAs and a veteran mini-camp to look forward to. But let's be honest - that's not going to satisfy our Dolphins football hunger.
A story that will receive little attention until July rolls around is how much these rookies will get paid. In particular, will Jared Odrick and Koa Misi - the team's first and second round picks - be signed before training camp starts? And when they do sign, what will their contracts look like?
We know that the Dolphins are firm believers in not having their rookies miss any camp time. Under this regime, only Chad Henne (a second round pick) was unsigned when the team was to report to camp. Henne signed a day later and was on the practice field without missing any major practice time.
So what do we know right now? Not much. We do know that the Dolphins have a rookie salary pool of $4.472 million for their eight draft picks. What does that figure include? As explained by the NFL, the rookie salary pool only counts the each draft pick's base salary in 2010, pro-rated signing bonus, and "likely to be earned" incentives. It's a pretty straight-forward formula, except for that "likely to be earned" incentive calculation. So I won't bother attempting to break down the possible rookie salaries in year one.
What I want to do is use the past to help predict the future. Let's look at the contracts signed by the 28th and 40th overall picks in 2008 and 2009 to see what kind of deal we might see Jared Odrick and Koa Misi might sign later this summer.
These contracts are more interesting than you might think, too.
In 2009, we saw a new trend. We saw rookies agreeing to contracts that could be worth less total money but that included more guaranteed money. However, many of these contracts have incentives included in them that could push the total values higher. For example, the 2008 28th overall pick, Seattle defensive end Lawrence Jackson, signed a 5 year contract worth $11.25 million and including $6.1 million in guarantees. The 2009 28th overall pick, Buffalo center Eric Wood, also signed a 5 year deal. His deal, though, is worth just $9.3 million. But it includes a 7% increase in guarantees ($6.575 million) and another $3 million in incentives that could push the deal up to a total value of $12.3 million - which would represent roughly a 9% increase in total value over Jackson's deal.
As for the second round, the 2008 40th overall pick, New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter signed a 4 year, $4.2 million deal that included $2.275 in guarantees. In 2009, New Englans nose tackle Ron Brace signed a 4 year, $3.884 million deal. Again, the value of the contract seems lower than what the player drafted in the same slot in 2008 received. But Brace's deal also includes $616,000 in incentives that can be earned along with more guaranteed money ($2.82 million).
So what does this all mean for Odrick and Misi? I have no idea - especially when you take into consideration the lack of a salary cap and the potential for a work stoppage following the 2010 season.
But if I had to guess, I'd say Odrick will be in line for a 5 year deal that includes around $7 million in guaranteed money while Misi will get close over $3.25 million guaranteed. Not bad for never playing a single snap in an NFL uniform.
Think they need to fix this rookie pay system? I'd say so.
Regardless, it should be very interesting to see how rookie contracts shape up all across the league this summer.
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