In a year in which draft choice signings have mostly trickled in, the Jacksonville Jaguars have stayed ahead of the league-wide curve. They took another step in that direction Tuesday by striking an agreement with second-round offensive tackle Khalif Barnes.
The 52nd prospect chosen overall, Barnes will sign a four-year, $2.82 million contract that includes a signing bonus of $1.435 million and standard minimum base salaries. The contract, negotiated by agent Kenny Zuckerman of Priority Sports and Entertainment, not only represents an increase over the corresponding slot in the '04 draft, but figures to also help other second-round choices secure four-year contracts.
Many clubs are attempting to lock up their second-round choices with five-year contracts. The only other second-rounder from this year's draft to have an agreement, Chicago wide receiver Mark Bradley, signed a five-year contract. That fifth year is crucial because it means a player has bypassed the opportunity for unrestricted free agency after four years.
Since Barnes plays left tackle, a premium position in today's pass-oriented game, having the ability to enter the unrestricted free agent market after just four seasons, and at just 27 years of age in 2009, could translate into a considerable amount of money.
Barnes, 23, is only the fourth player selected on the opening day of this year's draft to reach a contract agreement, and the Jaguars have signed two of them. The team has now reached agreements with five of its eight selections in the 2005 draft.
A four-year starter at Washington, the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Barnes may challenge for a starting job with the Jaguars as a rookie. Before the draft, Barnes was projected as a potential first-rounder by many teams and landing him so deep into the second round was a bargain for the Jags.
Barnes started 42 straight games for the Huskies before suffering a fractured right wrist in 2004, an injury that sidelined him for seven games.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.