Through the three days of last week's NFL draft, the New England Patriots secured the rights to nine college prospects. The team, however, has yet to sign them to officially bring them into the fold – a process that has become easier since the latest collective bargaining agreement was approved by the league and the players association and a rookie wage scale introduced as part of it.
This basically allows us to already know how much money a draft pick – depending on his spot of selection – will roughly earn over the course of his original four-year rookie contract. Of course, as comparatively smooth as this makes the entire process nowadays, there are still some issues that need to be resolved during negotiations.
Boston Sports Journal's salary cap expert Miguel Benzan notes that, for example, the guarantees in a contract can prove to be a tricky – the same goes for split salary agreements (late-round or undrafted players might receive a reduced salary when placed on injured reserve), cash intake increase (up to 25% for first- and second-rounders) or such mundane points like the timing of payments.
Once all those aspects are agreed upon, the deals will be done in accordance to each team's rookie pool. Yesterday, the Boston Globe's Ben Volin reported that the sizes of this year's pools has been finalized:
The Patriots’ rookie pool this year is $7,786,197 – which represents the combined 2018 salary cap numbers of their nine draft picks. It’s the 13th highest rookie pool in the NFL.
The pool, unsurprisingly, is dependent on the locations of draft choices: 23rd overall selection Isaiah Wynn, for instance, will command a bigger share than 31st pick Sony Michell, who himself will command a bigger share than 56th pick Duke Dawson, and so on. All those things put into consideration, the 2018 salary cap hits of New England's nine draft picks are projected by Benzan to look as follows:
OG Isaiah Wynn: $2.09 million
RB Sony Michel: $1.75 million
CB Duke Dawson: $863k
LB Ja'Whaun Bentley: $556k
LB Christian Sam: $525k
WR Braxton Berrios: $510k
QB Danny Etling: $506k
CB Keion Crossen: $499k
TE Ryan Izzo: $497k
Not all nine players will immediately count against the salary cap, however. With the NFL still operating under the “Rule of 51” – meaning that only a team's top 51 contracts will hit the cap until September – only Wynn, Michel and Dawson will officially be on the Patriots' books right now.