ORCHARD PARK, NY - MAY 11: T.J. Graham #11 of the Buffalo Bills makes a catch in front of Cris Hill #39 during Buffalo Bills Rookie Camp on May 11, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
We are now less than four weeks away from the start of 2012 Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher. The team's 90-man roster for the summer has been settled for quite some time now, but there's still one fairly significant detail to iron out by the time July 26 comes around: third-round pick T.J. Graham is still not under contract.
Back near the end of May, after the Bills had signed their other eight draft picks, we talked about the issue that teams have had signing third-round picks since the league's new Collective Bargaining Agreement. In a nutshell, players picked in the first two rounds are receiving their full slot allocations from the rookie wage scale, players picked in the fourth round and later are not, and third-rounders are left to scramble to avoid the fate of players picked later than them.
Last year, the NFL lockout caused a few Bills rookies to miss the very start of training camp, but third-round pick Kelvin Sheppard was the last of the team's nine picks to sign for the very same reason. He only ended up missing a little over a day's worth of work, but clearly, that's a fate that the team would do well to avoid with Graham.
Right now, Graham is among a group of nine third-round picks selected at the top of the round that have not yet signed their rookie deals. There's still plenty of time for the Bills and Graham to get a deal done in time for him to continue learning four different wide receiver positions - but it may take a crack in the dam, so to speak, to get the ball rolling on that front.
The other third-round picks in the aforementioned group of nine that haven't been signed: tight end Dwayne Allen, cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Josh Robinson, running back Ronnie Hillman, receivers Graham and DeVier Posey, punter Bryan Anger, guard Josh LeRibeus and defensive end Olivier Vernon.