The Cleveland Browns have signed all their draft picks but one: safety Jabrill Peppers. Is that something to be concerned about?
The Cleveland Browns selected safety Jabrill Peppers with the 25th overall selection of the 2017 NFL Draft with the idea that he would help solidify the secondary and add a missing spark to the return game.
Peppers was notable in college as a jack of all trades for Michigan, playing safety and linebacker on defense, seeing some time on offense, and averaging 13.1 yards per punt return and 26.8 yards per kick return.
With the Browns, Peppers is slated to stick to the safety position, and hopefully head coach Hue Jackson resists the urge to put him in an offensive package, and handle at least the punt return duties.
Which has special teams coordinator Chris Tabor all kinds of fired up, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
"“I am excited about Jabrill returning. Obviously, I thought he was electric in college as a playmaker. It is a matter of helping us get our return game to where it is supposed to be, where the Cleveland Browns are supposed to be returning the ball, and hopefully, we can get to that. We still have a lot of work to do, but I think we can get there.”"
The Browns were near the bottom of the league last season in both punt return yards and kickoff return yards, so anything that Peppers can give them should be a boost.
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The one hurdle in the way of those plans, however, is that Peppers is the lone draft selection who has yet to sign a contract.
Peppers is not alone, of course, as eight of the 32 players selected in the first round are still unsigned, according to NFL.com. But he does stick out within the Browns since the team has signed its other nine draft picks.
It may not be a big deal as the Browns do not open training camp until July 27, so Peppers does not have to be on the field until then. However, despite having just wee bit under $60 million in available cap space, the league has a set pool of salary cap money allocated to each team, so with everyone else in the Browns draft class signed, there is only so much money left for Peppers.
This is also not the first delay in Peppers’ brief Browns career, as he was the only rookie not to sign his participation agreement — which guarantees rookies that they will still receive a fair contract if injured — in time for the start of rookie minicamp.
He only missed one day, and Peppers said it was on the advice of his agent, but it did raise a few eyebrows, especially since Peppers is entering the league in Stage One of the drug program after submitting a diluted sample at the NFL Scouting Combine.
This may end up being much ado about nothing if Peppers lines up ready to go for the opening of training camp.
But it also continues a curious start to his NFL career, one that will hopefully be just a distant memory come the start of the regular season this fall.