Not all Cleveland Browns rookies have signed yet. What’s the hold up?
Although normally NFL draft picks are automatically signed shortly after the NFL draft, as of June 10, the Cleveland Browns have signed only fourth-round pick Harrison Bryant of the Florida Atlantic Owls and seventh-round pick Donovan Peoples-Jones from Thom Darden University. What gives, Browns?
The answer is simple and perhaps a little depressing. Doubtless, most Dawg Pound Daily readers are already sick of hearing about the COVID-19 virus, and in fact, a major reason to enjoy talking sports is to get away from the worries associated with this wretched virus. But the fact of the matter is that the COVID economy is messing with our favorite sport in more ways than one. It’s not just the Browns.
Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com is probably the first person to figure out that something was up. Fitzgerald reasoned that owners might be short on cash, just like everyone else. Additionally, the owners are seeking 2020 finances to be renegotiated in view of the screwed up economy (and with it, the salary cap), and thus are reluctant to shell out any money until the situation is clarified. In any case, teams appear to want to avoid writing checks until they really have to.
Immediate signings require prompt payment of signing bonus money, even if the charges to the salary cap are spread over all four years of the rookie base contracts. Players are usually not rich kids and thus they need to support themselves and pay bills in the summer.
Most literally do not have jobs or money to support themselves without football. Thus, normally teams make sure that their rookies are taken care of and treated like millionaires because many of them are.
But this is not a normal year. Fitzgerald claims that in 2017, 2018, and 2019, 81.9 percent of the draft picks were signed by the first week in June. This year, however, the percentage of draft picks signed is only 22.4 percent. This is a shocking difference.
Until everyone is sure that a mutually acceptable agreement to play is signed, teams are very reluctant to spend money. The salary cap for 2021 is a complete unknown. ince according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the cap is tied to league revenue, it has to go down in 2021, and possibly by a drastic amount. No one knows for sure how this will work itself out.
No doubt this also explains — at least partly — why several major free agents are still unsigned. It is not a great time for teams to make commitments, and frankly, they don’t care if the banks are about to foreclose on some player’s Ferrari. They’re going to wait to make commitments including contracts for rookies and free agents.
Sports is a place for people to temporarily escape worldly problems. However, in this case, the global scourge of Covid-19 has the side effect of messing with sports too. Not only is it delaying practices, but it is affecting the composition of the rosters as well.