FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts/notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. With rookie contracts in the NFL slotted, the deals are supposed to be consummated quickly, so what's the holdup with Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett? The third-round draft choice out of NC State is the team's lone unsigned pick, as the other eight selections were all finalized back on May 6. Brissett is the league's only draft pick to not hire a traditional sports agent – former NFL safety Abram Elam is serving as an adviser and Brissett is also tapping NFL Players Association director of salary cap and agent administration Mark Levin in negotiations -- which might help explain the delay. Brissett brushed off questions about it earlier this month, promising, "It will get done." It will at some point, with the terms projected to fall in the range of four years for around $3 million and a $680,000 signing bonus, but the situation serves as a reminder that even with the rookie wage scale there is still some back-and-forth between teams and prospects in negotiations.
2. While nearly 75 percent of this year's draft class is already under contract, one thing I learned when looking into Brissett's situation is that the third round has only produced 15 signings among 35 picks. Why so many third-rounders who have yet to sign? One NFL salary cap man relayed that third-round negotiations have proven to be more challenging than other rounds in recent years. The reason is that first- and second-round picks can receive a maximum of 25 percent allocation of a team's rookie salary cap, but because the third round doesn't max out at 25 percent, there is often debate over what the correct percentage should be. That has created a situation where the third round has been the spot in the draft where some agents are pushing for more annually, such as the inclusion of workout bonuses in the deals.
3. Did You Know: Of the 15 quarterbacks drafted this year, nine have signed contracts. The unsigned signal-callers are first-rounders Jared Goff (Rams) and Paxton Lynch (Broncos), third-rounders Brissett and Cody Kessler (Browns) and fourth-rounders Dak Prescott (Cowboys) and Cardale Jones (Bills).
4. Given the focus on player safety in the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell consistently pounding the importance of the "integrity of the game," I'm surprised last week's news that the Baltimore Ravens are reportedly being investigated by the league for illegally having rookies and first-year players in full pads during minicamp didn't generate more media-based coverage/outrage. The Ravens, whose general manager Ozzie Newsome is a member of the league's competition committee, were previously docked organized team activities in 2010 and the penalty this time could be more severe if league officials don't view it as an honest mistake. Perhaps if it was a team like the Patriots who were the offender, we would have heard more about it in media circles.
5. Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell (fourth round, 112th overall pick) was one of 41 rookies invited to the NFL Players Association Premiere in Los Angeles from May 19-22, and he was the only one to turn down the invite (as first noted by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe). The event is tied to marketing, as rookies wear their uniform for the first time and take pictures for trading cards, among other things. It was explained to me that Mitchell felt traveling cross country, and arriving back in town at midnight Sunday or early Monday morning if things were delayed, would have put him in a position where he wouldn't be at his best for Monday's start of voluntary organized team activities. Had the event been closer to New England, which would have had him back in town earlier, Mitchell probably would have attended.
6. With OTAs beginning this week, here's a snapshot look at how the Patriots' schedule looks: There will be three on-field practices this week (Thursday is the lone session open to the media), and then two next week June 1-2 (both closed to reporters). After those five practices, the team will hold its three-day mandatory minicamp from June 7-9, with all of those sessions open to reporters. Then the team caps off its OTAs with three sessions on June 13 (open to reporters), 14 and 16. That will provide media members the first on-field look at the team, which is always helpful, while at the same time keeping the words of running backs coach Ivan Fearslast year in mind: As good as some players might look, the best judgments are held until we see them in full pads.
7. Call it a "back to his roots" season for former Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones with the Arizona Cardinals. Jones is wearing No. 55, which was his number in Pop Warner. Jones was No. 99 at Syracuse and then donned 95 in New England. In Arizona, No. 99 is retired (Marshall Goldberg, 1939-43, 1946-48) and second-year defensive tackle Rodney Gunter has No. 95.
8. From afar, one question that cones to mind with news that Bills first-round draft pick Shaq Lawson underwent surgery on his previously injured shoulder (it could sideline him five to six months) is whether coach Rex Ryan's desires on draft day won out over the Bills' personnel staff. It's hard to imagine Bills scouts and the team's medical staff didn't know about Lawson's pre-existing shoulder issue, and how fragile the situation truly was for 2016. Yet I could envision Ryan, with strong ties to Clemson, making a persuasive sales pitch to roll the dice on Lawson as the personnel side weighed that against a safer choice like Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee, who went one pick later at No. 20 to the Jets.
9. Former Patriots defensive tackle Dominique Easley's one-year deal with the Rams included no signing bonus, a base salary of $600,000 (which is the minimum level for a player with his experience) and an injury split of $363,000 should he land on injured reserve. The modest terms reflect how there was no market for Easley across the NFL, which further highlights a stunning fall for the 2014 first-round pick. Easley will wear No 91 in Los Angeles.
10. The NFL's spring meeting will be held in Charlotte on Tuesday and here are the main things to know: With the next two Super Bowls in Houston (LI) and Minnesota (LII), the league will vote on the locations for the following three Super Bowls, with Atlanta, Los Angeles, South Florida (Miami), New Orleans and Tampa Bay those bidding to host. There will also be discussion on leftover competition committee matters, such as instant replay and sideline tablet usage. Also expect some further talk of international games in London, Mexico City and China. The spring meeting was likely the impetus for Patriots owner Robert Kraft's remarks Friday to Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY Sports, in which he supported Raiders owner Mark Davis' potential move to Las Vegas if a stadium solution can't be worked out in Oakland.