The Miami Dolphins have finally gotten all their 2011 draft picks under contract, as Pro Football Talk reported Saturday night that the team had agreed to terms on a four-year deal with rookie center Mike Pouncey, who was taken 15th overall back in April.
Based on the contracts received by players selected near Pouncey, such as the Detroit Lions' Nick Fairley (No. 13) and the Washington Redskins' Ryan Kerrigan (No. 16) I would estimate Pouncey's four-year contract will be fully guaranteed and worth roughly $9.3 million, with a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $5 million.
As with all other first-round contract following the new CBA, the contract will also include a fifth-year team option that can be picked up by the third year of the deal. The fifth-year salary will call for a significant raise based on the average of the top salaries at the player's position.
Pouncey, who will wear No. 63, joins the Dolphins' five other draft picks already under contract and should be available for the first fully-padded practice of training camp Sunday.
While he might have to work his way up the depth chart in training camp, expectations are that the rookie Pouncey will be the team's starting center when the regular season rolls around in September. His twin brother, Maurkice, was selected to the Pro Bowl last season after being taken in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Richie Incognito looks to be staying at left guard barring a free agent pickup, but incumbent center Joe Berger struggled mightily last season and will have great difficulty holding off Pouncey.
Despite a good showing in relief of Jake Grove in 2009, Berger showed in 2010 that he is best suited for a backup role; and it's possible he could lose his roster spot entirely if he falls out of the starting lineup. The team knows Incognito can back up the center spot, and Nate Garner has also seen spot duty there.
The Dolphins now have 76 players under contract, as well as four restricted or exclusive-rights free agents that have yet to be re-signed. This would leave the team with 10 open spots on their 90-man expanded training camp roster.
As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.
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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and currently works for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.