My how times have changed. The 2012 NFL Draft was nary two weeks ago, yet the Steelers have already agreed to terms with three of their draft picks.
Over the weekend the Steelers signed 4th roundpick Alameda Ta’amu and 5th round pick Chris Rainey to four year deals. Ta’amu’s was reported to be worth close to 2.5 million.
The Steelers inked Toney Clemons today, the first of four 7thround picks from the 2012 NFL Draft.
Suffice to say, things were decidedly different in yesteryear. It was common for NFL draft picks to hold out well into training camp. Rod Woodson held out for the entire first half of his rookie year, although that didn’t stop him from nabbing an interception for a touchdown in his fourth NFLgame.
In 1990, Eric Green, Neil O’Donnell, and Craig Veasey, the Steelers 1st, 3a and 3b picks from that spring’s draft missed over 22 days of training camp. Chuck Noll was furious, lambasting the rookiesclaiming that they missed so much camp they’d might as well not even bother signing.
O’Donnell, incidentally, signed his contract the next day, although he denied Noll’s badgering had anything to do with it.
The last mid round pick to hold out for any noteworthy amount of time was recently departed Aaron Smith, who missed the first two days of his rookie training camp in 1999.
The reasons for the change in standard operating procedure are twofold. Prior to the 1993 Collective Bargaining Agreement, rookie held out because without free agency it was for many the only time they held any leverage in contract negotiations.
The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement took that a step further by establishing a rookie wage scale, giving agents and teams very little to negotiate about.