Fleur-De-Lis Fever | Unsigned Rookies Threaten Training Camp Holdouts

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IJuly 27, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 07:  Malcolm Jenkins #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs back an interception against the Louisiana State University Tigers during the AllState BCS National Championship on January 7, 2008 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Eight teams have already begun training camp.

Much of the rest of the NFL will begin training camp.

So the question is, "When are all of the first round picks going to sign?"

As of Monday, only four players drafted in the first round have signed with their teams.

The only first round picks that are ready for camp are Detroit's Matthew Stafford, the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez, Cleveland's Alex Mack, and Pittsburgh's Evander Hood.

New England, Carolina, Dallas, and Chicago did not have first round picks this year.

Buffalo, the first team to fully begin training camp, has two first round picks and neither of them have signed.

The Saints have not signed any of their four draft picks.

The most important of those four draft picks is first round cornerback Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins was picked 14th overall out of Ohio State.

One of the problems in negotiating with Jenkins and his agent is that his market isn't quite set.

It is logical that the players drafted right before Jenkins would make a little more than him, and those drafted right after him would make a little bit less.

Unfortunately, 14 other players drafted around him (draft picks 6-20) have not signed.

To get an idea of what Jenkins will make as a rookie, we only have recent history.

Last year's 14th overall pick, Chicago's Chris Williams, signed a five-year deal worth $12.73 million, $9.2 million of which is guaranteed.

The first cornerback selected in 2008, Buffalo's Leodis McKelvin, signed a five-year deal worth $19.4 million, $12.6 million of which is guaranteed.

Based on these two contracts and the usual inflation, one could reasonable expect Jenkins to eventually sign a five-year deal worth about $14-15 million total with about $11 million guaranteed.

A look at the contract of Darrelle Revis, the 14th overall pick and first cornerback selected in the 2007 draft, throws a potential curveball at the situation.

Revis held out of Jets' camp for 20 days and received a six-year deal worth $30 million with $11 million guaranteed.

Revis' guaranteed total is more than the two players drafted immediately before him, Adam Carriker and Marshawn Lynch.

Revis' $30 million is more than of each of the five players's drafted immediately before him.

Now Revis may turn into one heck of a player; he already has one Pro Bowl under his belt.

Based on the precedent, though, the Jets overpaid some for Revis.

It is important for Jenkins and the Saints to avoid a lengthy holdout.

Everyday that he potentially misses is a day he is not learning defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' playbook, and it's also a day he doesn't go up against the best passing offense in the NFL.

It is also important, though, that the Saints avoid the temptation of overpaying just to get someone in camp on time. Overpaying for Jenkins will set a bad precedent for future negotiations.

While the dawn of camp brings a lot of excitement to fans everywhere, the holdouts bring a lot of frustration to all involved.

This dichotomy reminds us that the NFL is equally a game and a business.

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