Over the next few weekends, thousands of young adults will graduate from college, many of them with new jobs lined up. Prior to their start dates, they'll take one last vacation swing, maybe a few weeks at the beach, maybe a hike through Europe, but whatever the case, they'll soak in their last month or two of freedom before entering true adulthood.
However, for those college graduates who also happen to be drafted NFL players, they get to do none of that stuff. They go straight from the frying pan of the NFL Draft into the fire of rookie minicamp, literally just a few days later. They pack their things, have one last meal with friends, and then head to the city where they will try to live out their NFL dream.
Indeed, for the seven drafted and fifteen undrafted Houston Texan rookies, the journey begins today, as they arrive at NRG Stadium for their first workouts with their new bosses, today and tomorrow.
Now, by definition, the undrafted free agent rookies are already under contract which will, if they make the team, pay them the league minimum for the next three seasons. However, getting drafted rookies signed to deals within the tight, one week draft-to-minicamp timeframe is not always easy, even in this day and age when the salaries and signing bonuses are pretty much slotted for picks one through Mr. Irrelevant (this season, that would be pick number 256).
So kudos to the Houston Texans and their personnel staff for their quick work in getting all seven of their drafted rookies under contract before their first practice with the team today:
The Texans have signed all 7 draft picks. They will be on field for first time today.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 8, 2015
Texans CB Kevin Johnson gets 4-year deal for $10.049 million, fully guaranteed. It includes a signing bonus of $5.5 million.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 8, 2015
Texans ILB Benardrick McKinney's 4-year deal is worthy $5.3 million, with $3.2 million guaranteed and a $2.1 million signing bonus.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 8, 2015
Those numbers illustrate a couple things:
1. You can see the huge swing in potentially life changing money that some of these guys whose "draft stock" float between middle of the first round and middle of the second round experience, and can perhaps more poignantly imagine the stress they feel during that Thursday and Friday of the draft where rounds one and then two/three take place, respectively. Not only is the first round more money, but the deals are fully guaranteed. Think of a guy like Alabama safety Landon Collins, who was forecasted as high as the Texans pick at number 16 and who winds up going near the top of the second round. That's literally a swing of several million dollars in 24 hours. (Not that, say, McKinney's $3.2 million guaranteed is something to sneeze at, but still…)
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2. You really get a feel for just how badly former LSU and now Dallas Cowboy offensive lineman La'El Collins was damaged financially by the lack of exoneration from the murder of his ex-girlfriend last weekend. He was eventually eliminated as a suspect, but not until after the draft was over. Collins was thought to be a potential top ten overall pick, which would've meant somewhere around $15 million guaranteed. Instead, he signs for $1.5 million over three years, the league minimum, with the Cowboys.
(One quick Collins aside — there has been conjecture that the league strongly encouraged teams to stay away from Collins on draft weekend, even though he was not proven guilty of anything at that point. This could make for a fascinating lawsuit.)
So with no contracts to be done, with the rookie class signed and in camp, the 2015 season kind of quietly gets underway this weekend. The post Andre Johnson Era is here, and I'm sure it will soon feel totally weird once all the veterans are in camp, like the first season of The Office without Michael Scott.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.