The Bears passed up the rest of the league last Friday when they reached terms with seven of their nine draft picks. Contract negotiator Cliff Stein let it be known that his goal was to have all of the players under contract by mid-June and the Bears have about 10 days to make that happen.
Stein was the subject of a recent piece on ESPN.com by Len Pasquarelli right here. It outlined part of the philosophy in what the Bears do in keeping their rookie contracts uniform. Starting in 2003 with safety Todd Johnson, the Bears began signing all draft picks from the third round on down to four-year deals. At the time, they were permitted to sign second-round picks to five-year deals. Now, it's four-year deals for second-round picks on down. It's a good read and covers some of the ground we've hit on here.
After agent Frank Bauer's visit to Halas Hall earlier this week, defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert, the club's first third-round pick, is believed to be close to a deal. Bauer represents Gilbert as well as the power brokers on the coaching staff--Lovie Smith, Ron Turner, Bob Babich and Rod Marinelli. The Bears also have to sign wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias, the second pick from the third round.
All nine draft picks will receive four-year contracts with the following base salaries:
That makes for a base value of $1.75 million.
Here are the signing bonuses and total value of the deals for the seven players:
DE Henry Melton $511,230 signing bonus, $2,261,230
CB D.J. Moore $466,753 signing bonus, $2,216,753
WR Johnny Knox $204,240 signing bonus, $1,954,240
LB Marcus Freeman $181,700 signing bonus, $1,931,700
S Al Afalava $100,600 signing bonus, $1,850,600
G Lance Louis $41,982 signing bonus, $1,791,982
WR Derek Kinder $37,666 signing bonus, $1,787,666
Year 4 of each player's contract, 2012, contains an escalator that can bump up the base pay. This is because the players forfeit the chance to become a restricted free agent by signing four-year deals.