With the new CBA, rookie hold-outs are clearly a thing of the past. Teams are restricted on how much they can pay rookies, and the length of the first contract is essentially determined by the league.
David DeCastro, the right guard from Stanford that fell to the Steelers with the 24th pick of the draft (amazing luck and bad decision-making by other teams), missed all of the voluntary team activities. His school year hadn’t finished, and league rules don’t allow players to join their teammates for OTAs or minicamp until their academic obligations are complete. This raised the level of need for DeCastro to arrive on time to training camp.
Many 1st rounders hadn’t signed as of a couple of weeks ago…not because their agents were fighting for more money. The offset language of the contracts was the issue, meaning whether or not teams would guarantee the rookie’s salary in the final year of the contract. DeCastro and his agent were likely waiting to see what draft picks just above and below him received.
Fortunately, the Steelers announced today that they had come to terms with DeCastro, the last of the draft picks to be locked up, with plenty of time to spare before training camp opens this week. Dont’a Hightower, who went to the Patriots with the 25th pick, had already signed a deal that did not include any guaranteed money in the fourth year. When the Lions signed 23rd pick Riley Reiff to a similar deal, DeCastro was out of bargaining power. He reportedly signed a 4-year deal for $7.93 million with an option for a fifth year.
With DeCastro signed, the only remaining player is Mike Wallace, who has not yet signed his first round tender. Having released tackle Jonathan Scott last week to free up additional cap space, the Steelers are now focused on locking up Wallace. I suspect a long-term deal with the wide receiver is imminent.
Melanie Friedlander is a contributor to Steel City Blitz. You can follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/girlsurgeon.