The latest NFL collective bargaining agreement alleviated many of the headaches involved with signing rookies, particularly first-round draft choices. Holdouts were a regular occurrence prior to the new CBA, but a new rookie wage scale has largely resolved any issues relating to contract disputes.
It also has decreased the amount of money that top rookies receive, as Sam Bradford, the top overall choice in 2010, signed a six-year deal worth up to $78 million (including $50 million in guaranteed money), while Cam Newton, the top overall choice in 2011, signed a deal that maxes out at just over $22 million.
The Patriots traded their first-round selection this year to the Vikings in a deal that gave Minnesota the 29th overall choice for the second straight year.
Salaries for rookies tend to increase slightly each year, so the contract for the 29th pick this year, Cordarrelle Patterson, is likely to eclipse what teammate Harrison Smith (the 29th overall pick in 2012) received last year.
The details for Smith's deal are as follows: four years, a maximum value of $7.139 million with a $3.6 million signing bonus and $5.8 million guaranteed.
Among the picks acquired from Minnesota in the trade was the 52nd overall selection, used on linebacker Jamie Collins, who was taken just seven picks ahead of the Patriots' second choice, wide receiver Aaron Dobson.
The 52nd pick last year, Zach Brown, received a four-year deal with a maximum value of $3.858 million and a $1.25 million signing bonus, while the 59th pick, Vinny Curry, signed a four-year deal worth up to $3.23 million and a signing bonus of $807,950.
Keeping in mind that the salaries for Collins and Dobson are likely to increase minimally, the Patriots project to pay their top two choices just over $7 million in maximum value for eight seasons of work.
While rookie contracts are no longer as difficult to agree upon, it's always interesting to note what the top choices for each team will earn in their first NFL deals.