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It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade since the previous CBA agreement was made and the rookie pool was instituted in the NFL. The rookie pool put a cap on how much a draft pick could make over the course of his rookie deal, as well as a definitive number of years the deal is for. All NFL picks are signed to a four-year deal with set salaries and signing bonuses. Players who go undrafted are given three-year deals and are known as restricted free agents, where teams have the right of first refusal on a second contract.
With each position being slotted for a specific signing bonus and base salaries set in each CBA, it’s easy to know what Dallas will be paying Tulsa’s Tyler Smith over the course of the deal. Smith is set to make just over $15 million in salary through 2025, which includes a signing bonus of over $8 million, according to Over the Cap.
Expected Contract Breakdown for Tyler Smith
Smith’s $2.74 million cap hit knocks out a player from the top-51 calculation for offseason cap compliance, so the net impact is his selection takes up an additional $2 million of cap space.
Rookie contracts for first-round picks are fully guaranteed. The Cowboys will pay their rookies just under $10 million in total salary if they stay put with all of their selections and it will cost them just over $3 million of effective cap space.
As part of the rookie pool agreement, players are only eligible to negotiate a new contract after completion of their third season. Also at that point, NFL teams are forced to announce whether or not they invoke the fifth-year option.
This was a provision put in place that allows teams to get another year of control over their premiere draft picks, but at a veteran rate. The fifth-year option is a guaranteed deal as well.
The value of the fifth-year option is tied to performance. From former agent Joel Corry:
Performance now dictates the option-year salaries. With two or more Pro Bowl selections on the original ballot during the first three seasons of contracts, the fifth-year salary is the franchise tender — which is the average of the five highest salaries for a player’s position in the fourth year of his contract. One Pro Bowl selection on the original ballot during the first three seasons of a deal puts the fifth-year salary at the transition tender — which is the average of the 10 highest salaries for a player’s position in the fourth year of his contract.
Participating in 75% of offensive or defensive plays, whichever is applicable, in two of the first three seasons of deals or an average of at least 50% play time in each of the first three seasons, sets the fifth-year salary at the average of the third through 20th highest salaries at a player’s position. For first-round picks that don’t fall into any of these three categories, the fifth-year salary is the average of the third through 25th highest salaries at a player’s position.
The potential value of the option isn’t currently known. Last offseason Dallas refused to place the option on 2018 first-round pick, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. The oft-injured former Pro Bowler would have earned over $9 million if it had been enacted. Instead, he re-signed this past winter for just $2 million.
Dallas didn’t have a 2019 first-round pick, so there was no player to place that option on during this cycle.
2019 OL without any Pro Bowl accolades are looking at around $13 million for their options.
For Smith, the hope is that he plays so well, Dallas will want to work out a second contract with him at least before the option year comes around.
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