The Bears were not first out of the gates to sign a draft pick this year but that doesn't mean they do not have a chance to be the first one to the finish line.
A handful of teams have already signed picks from the 2009 draft to contracts after the Bears were the first to do so on at least a few occasions over the last five years. If history is a good indicator, contract negotiator Cliff Stein could finalize multiple deals this week and league sources indicate that Stein is in negotiations with several agents. Marc Lillibridge, who represents wide receiver Johnny Knox (fifth round), attended the OTA last Thursday.
The Bears announced the signing of five of their 12 draft picks last year on May 30. Sources say Stein's goal is to have this year's picks finalized by mid-June, which gives him about three weeks to reach his unofficial goal.
The Bears have a total of nine picks to sign this year and with no selection in the first or second rounds, it should be straight forward and simple. All nine draft picks are expected to receive four-year contracts, a policy the Bears first implemented in 2003 in a contract with safety Todd Johnson.
The minimum salaries for all players will be:
That's a base value of $1.75 million. Factor in the signing bonus and you will have the total value of the deals. If the raise in signing bonuses this year is consistent with previous seasons and is near 3.5 percent, third-round pick Jarron Gilbert should receive a signing bonus of about $884,000. Wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias, if the increase from his slot in 2008 is also near 3.5 percent, can expect a signing bonus of roughly $618,900.
The Bears' rookie pool number is $3,497,111. With $20.8 million in available cap space, that will leave the club with ample room to sign linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, extend quarterback Jay Cutler and have money left over for in-season emergencies. Well, maybe we're getting ahead of Stein on his to-do list.