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Bears could sign Caleb Williams now, but he can't join offseason workouts before draft

If the Bears want Caleb Williams and if Caleb Williams wants the Bears, the two sides don't have to wait three weeks to make it official. Per the NFL, the rule allowing the team with the first overall pick to sign its eventual selection to a contract before the draft remains on the books.

Of course, the league generally frowns upon the dissemination of advance information regarding the draft. The NFL wants maximum eyeballs on the TV coverage to find out who the pick will be. If the Bears sign Williams, there's not even a thin shred of drama when the first pick is on the clock.

Although the contracts for draft picks are now structured and slotted and easy to negotiate, there's no benefit to the team to having the player under contract early. According to the league, Williams would not be permitted to join the Bears' offseason program if he signs a contract before the draft.

Before 2011, it wasn't uncommon for teams to sign the first overall pick before the draft. The process was more complicated, and some teams used the possibility of drafting someone else instead in order to get the player to agree to terms. Since the 2011 CBA introduced the rookie wage scale, no one has signed before the draft.