One day before training camps open, three first-round picks have not signed their rookie contracts.
The unsigned first rounders are Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (first overall), Giants tackle Andrew Thomas (fourth overall), and Titans tackle Isaiah Wilson (29th overall).
In early May, Burrow suggested that he’d monitor the COVID-19 situation before signing. It has gotten far worse instead of better since then; however, there’s no reason at this point to refuse to sign, since the signing bonus (roughly $24 million) will be paid out regardless of whether games are played this year.
Also, if Burrow would sit out the year and re-enter the draft, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t be the first overall pick. Even if he were, he’d likely get a lot less in 2021. The salary cap drives rookie contracts, and a $23.2 million drop in the salary cap surely would drive down the value of the first-round rookie contracts.
For players taken at the top of the draft (like Burrow and Thomas), there isn’t much to negotiate beyond offsets in guaranteed money, the timing of the payment of the signing bonus, and the triggers for voiding guarantees. If Burrow or Thomas don’t sign by Tuesday, the likely reason will be one or more of those three.
For Wilson, the only real sticking point become the amount of the fourth-year salary that will be fully guaranteed. The player taken behind him has $1.6 million guaranteed; the player taken in front of him has $1.9 million guaranteed. Wilson should get $1.75 million guaranteed.