Cowboys sign last two rookies on 1st day of 2021 training camp

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The roster is complete. The Dallas Cowboys trimmed the group down on Saturday, but the core of the 90-man offseason roster has been known for months now.

Following the 2021 draft, the club agreed to terms with a series of undrafted free agents and while the rookie pool pretty much outlined the parameters of each selection’s deal, the third rounders were slow to put ink to paper. That’s to be expected, as the third rounders have the most wiggle room within the collective bargaining agreement’s rookie wage scale. As is often the case, the Cowboys and their third rounder went to the deadline as camp approached. Well, two of their three third rounders. On Wednesday morning, prior to the training camp pressers, it was announced Nahshon Wright and Chauncey Golston were finally under contract.

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What took them so long? There’s a little bit of wiggle room for third-round draft picks when it comes to negotiating their rookie deals. While the first round draft picks get fully guaranteed deals, the second rounders get partially guaranteed base salaries, the third rounders do not. The only thing guaranteed is there signing bonus.

More to the point, third rounders fall in the sweet spot of the 25% rule. This rule maxes out the year-to-year raise players can get.

Each year of a CBA has a minimum salary associated with it based on years of service in the league. Third-round draft picks can increase their salary year-to-year up to the 25% rule, meaning they can make more than minimum base salary. Because of this, they are the only draft picks whose contracts aren’t already set in stone. There’s room to negotiate, and negotiate the players and teams do.

The difference can amount to as much as $500,000 over the course of the four years, and for players with no guarantees outside the initial bonus, this is a big deal.

What made things even crazier is that year by year, the average third round is getting closer and closer to making the maximum amount. Until this year, when Houston’s Nico Collins got the full 100% of the maximum. Naturally, players drafted earlier in the round than Collins’ No. 26, wanted this deal if they hadn’t signed yet.

It should be assumed the reps for Wright and Golston waged war on this level as well.

Regardless, the Cowboys entire draft class is now under contract and ready to start practice on Thursday.