DENVER—For all the limited brainpower required to put together rookie deals in the NFL’s slotted draft pick system, there is an exception where some good old-fashioned bargaining can take place.
The third round.
The Denver Broncos had seven of their eight draft picks under contract by Thursday night, and wouldn’t you know it, the exception is third-round pick Carlos Henderson, a receiver from Louisiana Tech.
And it may be another 10 days or so before the Broncos and Henderson reach an agreement. Henderson is attending the Broncos’ rookie minicamp this weekend at UCHealth Training Center and a practice waiver could be arranged for him to get on the field for the light practice Saturday.
Henderson would then have to leave the Broncos’ facility until his Louisiana Tech graduating class goes through commencement on May 20.
Perhaps, his contract will be done by the start of OTAs (organized team activities) on May 23.
His contract issue is there are discrepencies with how the total draft pool compensation is allocated to a window of third-round picks.
To make up for this discrepancy, agents try to negotiate compensation above the minimum salary in years two, three and four of the four-year rookie deals. Often this additional compensation comes in the form of workout bonus.
For instance, Justin Simmons, the Broncos’ third-round pick last year, got workout bonuses of $13,000 in his second year (this year), $14,000 in 2018 and $15,000 in 2019. An extra $42,000. Not much in the grand scheme of team payrolls, but teams don’t like to set precedents and agents do.
Henderson, who otherwise can expect a signing bonus of about $818,000 folded inside his four-year, total value of about $3.33 million, may wait until other picks around him sign first.
Carolina defensive end Daeshon Hall, who was picked five spots ahead of Henderson, had workout bonuses of $45,000 in 2018, $50,000 in 2019 and $60,000 in 2020 tacked on to his recent deal. Relatively speaking that additional $155,000 compensation in workout bonuses is considerable.
Perhaps complicating Henderson’s ability to get a deal done is the pick ahead of him, Washington cornerback Fabian Moreau, recently suffered a torn pectoral muscle. And the pick behind Henderson, defensive end Derek Rivers, belongs to New England, which is known for playing by its own set of rules.
Because of the NFL's graduation rules, Henderson can afford to stay patient until May 23. But a rookie who misses OTAs is a rookie who falls behind.