Rookie Signings

The Bucs have signed two of their draft picks but before I get into the details of the signings, I'm going to take a look at the broad rookie signing trends this year.

One of the more unusual trends this off-season has been the few number of first-round picks who have been signed. At least three first round picks had been signed by this point last season, but so far not a single first round pick has been signed.

The most likely reason for the delay is that none of the top 5 draft picks have been signed yet and the rest of the first round is waiting to see what the top five picks will be paid. The top five picks, and especially the number one pick Alex Smith, set the market in terms of what rookies will be paid this season. The last thing any agent or rookie wants is to be paid less than the guy picked after them.

The problem is that Alex Smith wants to be paid more than the 49ers would like to part with and there is the chance that Smith could miss the first few days of training camp (which starts July 28th). This goes back to the concerns expressed before the draft that none of the picks was a clear cut number one, yet Smith would like to be paid at least as much as the six year, $45 million contract Eli Manning signed last year.

Smith and Manning are represented by the same agent, Tom Condon, who has been known to recommend that his players hold out the first few days of training camp in order to recieve a bigger contract. The 49ers have argued that the Giants overpaid for Manning and would like to sign Smith for less than what the Giants paid for Manning.

If Smith holds out the first few days of training camp most of the first round rookies would not be signed until August, whereas only 13 of the 32 first round rookies signed in August last year (the majority, 18, signed in July last year).

Anyway, the Bucs have signed 6th-round pick defensive tackle Anthony Bryant from Alabama and have agreed in principle on a deal with 4th-round pick guard Dan Buenning from Wisconsin.

Bryant has been signed to a 5 year deal with a $120,000 signing bonus and a first-year salary of $230,000. According to Bryant's agent, Archie Lamb, Bryant's deal has several salary escalator's tied to playing time, but none of those escalators are effective this year.

Buenning has agreed to a five year deal with a $600,000 singing bonus, and also has several escalators that increase his salary based on how much he plays. Buenning is expected to compete with Matt Stinchcomb for the left guard spot.

The Bucs have begun talks with their other rookies, including first round pick Carnell Williams. General manager Bruce Allen said on Wednesday that he remains optimisitic that a contract will be completed for Williams by the time training camp starts July 29th.

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