PHOENIX --** A few years ago, it wouldn't be inconceivable to already know who the Browns were going to take with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
For years, teams with the first overall pick would enter contract negotiations days or weeks before the draft with the player they intended to select. The reasoning was simple: to avoid a situation in which the player wouldn't be signed in time for training camp. *[
As explained by MMQB's Andrew Brandt, teams used to carry a designated pool of salary cap room for their draft picks. How it was divvied was up to the team, and that ultimately led to first-round picks getting a large share of it. In 2010, No. 1 pick Sam Bradford signed a six-year, $78 million contract that included a record $50 million in guaranteed money.
The deal was the last of its kind. A new Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011 set predetermined amounts of money for each pick, not the class as a whole. It's made for tight parameters that leave little wiggle room for negotiation on either side.
The effects have been dramatic. Just one year after Bradford's big deal, No. 1 pick Cameron Newton signed a four-year, $22 million deal that included the standard fifth-year option all first-round picks receive. He was signed the day before training camp. Last year, top pick Jared Goff was signed a month and a half before the start of training camp. The year before, Jameis Winston was signed by May 1.
It's one of the main reasons why the Browns don't see the need to reveal their selection until the NFL demands it on draft night.
"For us that would be something we keep in private if we were to decide do it, but at this point negotiations are more of a formality than anything else — maybe with the exception of San Diego last year," Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said Tuesday. "We don't feel the urgency necessarily you saw under the prior CBA with those structures that were really complicated, particularly at the time of the draft, to jump into negotiations early. I wouldn't anticipate that."
Brown confirmed the Browns, as of Tuesday, had yet to decide on their official course of action with the No. 1 pick. And he repeated what he's previously said about fielding offers for any of the team's assets.
The time is ticking, but it's still on the Browns' side.
"We will always listen if teams want to call us, I think that's our MO as most teams do," Brown said. "But we do feel good about some of the players that will be available at the top of the draft. We haven't made our decision yet but we have a number of players that we do feel like can really help us there but we do know there will be a couple teams interested in talking to us about that.
"We want to use our full allotment of the clock in the sense that we're on the clock now and we're going to continue doing work on all the prospects, even the guys we feel like we have a really good grasp on."
Take a look at the top NFL Draft prospects at their Pro Days.
On Tuesday during the AFC Coaches breakfast, Browns coach Hue Jackson said he and the organization are focused on the 2017 class of quarterbacks and trying to identify the player that has the best chance for success within the team's system. He did, however, acknowledge the human nature aspect that comes into play and leads one to peek ahead to next year's crop of signal-callers. Here are five that might be making draft headlines at this time next year.
- Sam Darnold (USC) - He's already on the big stage with the Trojans but he emerged as a household name after he led USC to a dramatic victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder will be a redshirt sophomore in 2017.
- Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State) - He's thrown for more than 7,700 yards and 49 touchdowns over the past two seasons.
- Josh Allen (Wyoming) - He's got size NFL teams love (6-foot-2, 222 pounds) and experience in a pro-style offense. A big spotlight will be shining on Laramie this season because of him.
- Josh Rosen (UCLA) - He's been the starter since the first game of his true freshman season. His 2016 season was short-circuited by a shoulder injury but he still averaged more than 300 passing yards per game.
- Luke Falk (Washington State) - Falk mulled going pro but ultimately decided to return for one more season in Mike Leach's offense. The 6-foot-4, 216-pounder threw for 4,468 yards and 38 touchdowns in 2016.
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DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (Villanova) - Yes, Villanova can play some football, too, and it boasts one of the most intriguing prospects in this year's draft. It was hard to find anyone who looked better at the Senior Bowl weigh-in, as Kpassagnon stands an impressive 6-foot-7 and 289 pounds and looks the part of a menacing defensive end. Because of the type of competition he faced in college, Kpassagnon is due for a wakeup call with whoever selects him, so patience will be required. Still, there's as much upside with him as any late Day 2 or early Day 3 selection in the draft, and teams haven't shied away from projects in the past.
Did you know?
Since 1999, the Browns have used six first-round picks on players from the SEC, four apiece on players from the ACC and Big 12, three in the Big Ten, two in the Pac-12 and two from Notre Dame.