Earlier this morning, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that second-round linebacker Lavonte David had agreed to terms on a four-year contract, becoming the fifth player in the team's seven-member draft class to agree to terms or sign a contract. The Cincinnati Bengals also announced the signing of first-round cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
If it feels like the 2012 NFL Draft class is signing at a much faster rate than previous years, that's because it is.
As of Thursday night, 147 of the 253 players (58 percent) selected in the 2012 NFL Draft had a signed contract, NFL Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Aiello announced on Twitter. Aeillo added that, in the five drafts under the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement, only 58 players had signed contracts in the month of May. With 1,273 players selected in those five entry drafts, that's less than five percent.
The new collective bargaining agreement has standardized the process, with Year-One Formulas Allotments reducing the wiggle room on signing bonuses. Negotiations are limited to base salaries in Years Two, Three and Four as well as the guaranteed amounts (which are not capped) and additional details such as workouts bonuses and escalator language.
Cliff Stein, the Vice President of Football Administration for the Chicago Bears, was usually the first contract negotiator to have his picks signed. The year, the Bears were the seventh team to sign their draft class. In addition to the Bears, the Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks have signed all of their draft picks and will be able to enjoy their time off before training camp. They'll soon be joined by the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers, who have just one unsigned draft choice remaining before training camps open in two months.