Just a few years ago, rookies were holding out of training camp while fighting tooth and nail with teams for a better deal. Since the new Collective Bargaining Agreement slotted rookie pay starting in 2011, holdouts have been much harder to come by. On Thursday, Twitter user @Ddiggs14 asked me: "What is taking EJ Manuel so long to sign his rookie deal?"
Now isn't the time to worry about Manuel's contract. The last Bills draft pick not signed by the start of training camp was C.J. Spiller in 2010, who missed a week of camp. According to Spotrac, only four first rounders have signed their rookie deals as of May 31. One of them happens to be Kenny Vaccaro, taken one spot before Manuel by the New Orleans Saints. If the Pittsburgh Steelers sign Jarvis Jones, taken one spot after Manuel, the Bills' quarterback of the future will be slotted in.
With the new CBA's steady increases from year to year, we know Manuel will sign a four-year deal worth almost $9 million. The system is so straightforward that radio host and former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Ross Tucker offered to do Baltimore Ravens pick Matt Elam's deal for a flat $500 fee instead of the three percent that most agents get. (Elam has been working without an agent throughout the process.)
The negotiating points in the deals are centered around how different types of guaranteed money in the form of bonuses will be doled out. Workout and roster bonuses can be spread for three or four years, according to NFL business guru Andrew Brandt.
One thing should also be noted: despite not having a contract, Manuel has been at OTAs taking reps every day.