The rookie pool - basically a salary cap within a salary cap - is the maximum salary-cap value that a team is permitted to invest in its draft choices and undrafted free agents it signs. The salary cap figure is based on the number of choices a team has and where the picks occur in the draft, with some consideration to undrafted rookie free agents.
The Niners' rookie pool is $3.473 million, which ranks the Niners 18th among the league's 32 teams. The pool is included as part of the team's overall spending limit of $71.101 million for the 2002 season.
Entering May, the Niners were more than $5 million under that salary-cap figure, which would give the team plenty of money to sign its rookies and a little left over to perhaps pursue another free agent after June 1.
San Francisco usually waits until the week before training camp to sign its rookies, which gives the Niners a chance to see where the market stands before getting serious in contract negotiations with its rookie class. In recent years, the team has made it a priority to get its rookies signed before camp begins, or at least get its first-round pick - typically the last to sign - in camp before full-squad workouts begin.
The expansion Houston Texans have a rookie pool of $6.35 million to sign their 13 draft picks, which is the highest figure in the NFL. Only two other teams - the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers - have a rookie pool of more than $5 million. The lowest rookie pool in the NFL this year belongs to Miami, which will have only $1.443 million to sign its five picks.