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Kenny Pickett, Steelers Agree to Contract; Last 1st-Round Pick to Sign Deal

Adam WellsJune 23, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) throws the ball during the team's OTA practice, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

All 32 first-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft are under contract after Kenny Pickett agreed to terms on his rookie deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh confirmed the agreement Thursday after ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Pickett signed his deal:

Field Yates @FieldYates

This means all 32 first-round picks are under contract ✅ <a href="https://t.co/7pSGFKAXu2">https://t.co/7pSGFKAXu2</a>

The Steelers made Pickett the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback when they drafted him No. 20 overall.

Per Spotrac, the No. 20 overall pick in this year's draft receives an estimated value of $14.1 million with a $7.4 million signing bonus under his four-year rookie contract.

Signing Pickett also means the Steelers' entire draft class is under contract. He became the last holdout after wideout Calvin Austin III (No. 138 overall) signed his deal June 6.

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe noted Pickett's holdout may have been over the structure of his payout.

"The standard rookie contract entails a signing bonus and four years of base salary," Volin wrote. "But several players now negotiate for large roster bonuses at the beginning of training camp and minimum salaries. The money is equal, but the players get more up front. However, the Steelers have never agreed to that structure for first-round picks."

Since rookie contracts are scaled, the only real negotiating that takes place between agents and teams is over bonus payouts.

It's not uncommon for quarterbacks to be the last players to sign their rookie deals. Zach Wilson of the New York Jets was the final first-rounder from 2021 to sign because the two sides were haggling over offset language.

Wilson didn't sign until July 29, causing him to miss the first day of training camp.

Pickett has taken part in rookie minicamp and organized team activities with the Steelers this offseason. The 2021 ACC Offensive Player of the Year is going to be on the field when the team reports to training camp next month.

A four-year starter at the University of Pittsburgh, Pickett threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2021. He is the school's all-time leader in completions (1,045), passing yards (12,303) and passing touchdowns (81).

The Steelers are expected to have a quarterback competition during training camp and the preseason. Pickett, Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph are all vying to become the starter in Week 1 of the regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals.

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