Rookie wage scale takes guesswork out of signing Colts’ draft picks

Indianapolis Colts

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – NOVEMBER 17: Kwity Paye #19 of the Michigan Wolverines tries to sack Peyton Ramsey #12 of the Indiana Hoosiers at Michigan Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 31-20. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – The hard part is over. Now comes the easy stage of dealing with the Indianapolis Colts’ latest draft class.

After spending months and countless hours determining which players to select in the 2021 NFL Draft, general manager Chris Ballard and his staff essentially can sit back and allow the rookie wage scale to do its business. With few variations, contracts are locked in by where a player was drafted.

The rookie wage scale was put in place in 2011 and was an attempt at reining in mushrooming contracts – and guaranteed signing bonuses – on players taken at the top of the draft.

In 2010, the final year of unchecked rookie deals, Sam Bradford was given a six-year, $78 million contract with $50 million guaranteed as the 1st overall pick of the St. Louis Rams. Trevor Lawrence, taken 1st overall by Jacksonville last Thursday, is due a full-guaranteed four-year, $36.79 million contract with a $24.119 million signing bonus.

Timing is everything.

And it won’t take much time for the Colts to get their draft class under contract.

Last year, Indy selected Ball State offensive lineman Danny Pinter in round 5 on April 25. He was the first draft pick to sign on May 12. Third-round pick Julian Blackmon was the last to put pen to paper on June 16.

Already, one of the 259 players selected in the draft has signed: safety Jamien Sherwood, taken in the fifth round by the New York Jets.

Here’s a look at the four-year contracts due the Colts’ draft class, per Overthecap.com. Again, teams have fifth-round options with first-round picks.

DE Kwity Paye, Michigan

  •  Round/overall: 1/21
  •  Total value: $13,644,362
  •  Signing bonus: $7.28 million
  •  2021 cap hit: $2,480,884

DE Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt

  •  Round/overall: 2/54
  •  Total value: $6,177,534
  •  Signing bonus: $1.85 million
  •  2021 cap hit: $1,123,188

TE Kylen Granson, SMU

  •  Round/overall: 4/127
  •  Total value: $4,186,368
  •  Signing bonus: $706,368
  •  2021 cap hit: $836,592

S Shawn Davis, Florida

  •  Round/overall: 5/165
  •  Total value: $3,787,336
  •  Signing bonus: $307,336
  •  2021 cap hit: $736,834

QB Sam Ehlinger, Texas

  •  Round/overall: 6/218
  •  Total value: $3,610,708
  •  Signing bonus: $130,708
  •  2021 cap hit: $692,677

WR Mike Strachan, Charleston

  •  Round/overall: 7/229
  •  Total value: $3,594,832
  •  Signing bonus: $114,832
  •  2021 cap hit: $688,708

OL Will Fries, Penn State

  •  Round/overall: 7/248
  •  Total value: $3,565,376
  •  Signing bonus: $85,376
  •  2021 cap hit: $681,344

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