The San Francisco 49ers have signed nine of their ten draft picks to contracts, with first round pick Solomon Thomas the only player unsigned. Thomas is one of ten draft picks unsigned heading into July. He is one of seven first round picks that have not signed. That list includes:
The 49ers signed their other first round pick, Reuben Foster, on June 9. The deal included unprecedented guaranteed money. First round picks in the top half usually get fully guaranteed four-year contracts. Players in the back of the first round get three years of guarantees, but not usually a fourth year. According to reports since the signing, the 49ers gave him some guaranteed money in the fourth year. That has never happened with a 31st overall pick since the new CBA went into effect.
There is no word on the status of Thomas’ contract negotiations. The overall dollar value is just about set thanks to the rookie wage scale. The big question is how offsets will work. Offset language prevents a player from double-dipping if a team releases them. If a player has $2 million guaranteed in his fourth year, and the team wants to release him before then, they would owe him the $2 million. If he signs for $2 million elsewhere and there is offset language in the contract, the new team would pay the $2 million and the old team would be off the hook. If there is no offset language, the player would collect the $2 million from his old team, and then collect the additional $2 million from his new team.
The other area that can create an issue is deferred money. A rookie gets a signing bonus, with first round picks getting more sizable bonuses. Sometimes a team will negotiate so they can pay out the signing bonus in installments. They will owe the player the money regardless, but teams sometimes want to negotiate it into the start of the new league year. I believe it’s when they’re a little more flush with TV cash, but I’m not sure.
Last year, third overall pick Joey Bosa held out for much of training camp. The then San Diego Chargers wanted him to have offset language in his contract, but they also wanted to defer some of his signing bonus payment. Bosa was open to having one or the other, but not both. Eventually the Chargers relented, and Bosa joined the team.
I can’t say for sure what is holding up Thomas and the 49ers, but I also would not be surprised if the deal got done shortly before training camp. Last year, Joshua Garnett was unsigned after the offseason workout program, but got his deal done in late July. Both Garnett and Thomas had to deal with the Stanford late final exam schedule, preventing them from joining the 49ers for OTAs, but my guess is that is not responsible for the delay in signing. We’ll have to wait and see, but I think we see a late July signing when Thomas returns to the facility for training camp.