The Kansas City Chiefs selected eight players in the 2012 NFL Draft in late April. By May 17, seven of the eight were signed, sealed and delivered. Unfortunately, the lone unsigned rookie for the Chiefs is also the most important one — first round selection Dontari Poe, a defensive tackle from Memphis.
Should fans ultimately become concerned by Poe’s lack of a contract at this point? Not really. Poe was a team player through off-season workouts and showed that he was willing to work hard on the field and allow his agent to take care of any business details. And the Chiefs realize that Poe will need every bit of work to prep for the jump in competition to the pro level from Memphis, so expect a contract to be finished by the time it really matters.
However many fans wonder why Poe isn’t already signed, and that’s a good question. After all, Stephon Gilmore and Fletcher Cox — the No. 10 and 12 picks in the draft — already signed deals with the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles respectively. Poe, at No. 11, has the bookends established around him, so the parameters are set. A contract should be easy, right?
Maybe not. There are a few loose ends that could lead to the setbacks and negotiations that are likely happening between the Chiefs and Poe’s agent. Here are some things to understand:
1. The Fifth Year Option
Poe’s standard contract will run four years. That’s what every rookie will receive under the new collective bargaining agreement. Gilmore’s deal went for 4/$12.1 million and Cox’s reads 4/$10.24. Expect Poe to land smack dab in the middle. However, first round choices will typically have a fifth year team option involved in their contracts. Gilmore has one and Poe’s placement at No. 11 overall makes a major difference here.
The way the fifth year option works is that the team must decide after year three whether or not to activate that option. The final year of the contract then becomes worth the average salary of No. 3 through 25 in the NFL at that player’s particular position. For a top 10 NFL Draft choice, it’s an average of the top ten players at that position. Thus, Poe’s option is going to be worth a lot less just because of the drop from No. 10 to 11.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Poe’s agents were wanting to include that option year since, if Poe breaks out like Scott Pioli is hoping, he will still be a great bargain for the Chiefs in year five of his deal.
2. Signing Bonus
Another important thing to note is the player’s signing bonus. Last year, J.J. Watt negotiated a $6.67 million signing bonus for the No. 11 position. Since he’s also a defensive lineman, Poe is likely to receive something slightly north of that. However, since a signing bonus isn’t officially capped like the base salary of a deal.
If Poe’s agent wanted, he could try to advocate for a greater signing bonus even though the common practice is to slot a player’s bonus between the draftees around him — Gilmore and Cox in this instance. However, there’s no hard and fast rule about this. That means a hard nosed agent could press for more money here. Again, there’s no way of knowing this or not, but if you’re looking for reasons why a deal for Poe might be absent until now, this could be a cause.
In the end, Poe will sign soon enough and the team and player will both fail to miss a beat despite the wait. But for those wanting to know the ins and outs of the lack of a deal, perhaps these are some of the reasons.