The Eighth-Round Draft Pick

The Seahawks.NET cap guru looks at the crop of undrafted rookies and gives some insight as to who might have the best shot of sticking around.

After the draft, the next wave of players to jump on the roster are the undrafted college free agents. The Seahawks have a nice history of undrafted players with long careers. Dave Krieg, Joe Nash and Eugene Robinson are all-timers, and current players like Mack Strong and D.D. Lewis are solid contributors.

This year the Seahawks signed 13 undrafted free agents. Which of those have the best chance of hanging on the roster? One way to handicap their chances is to look at the signing bonus each received. Players who received higher bonuses clearly are viewed by the team as more credible prospects. Players who received no bonus whatsoever are probably facing a tougher battle to crack the roster.

In 2003 the Seahawks paid a total of $56,500 in rookie bonuses to 7 undrafted players. The two highest bonuses were $12,500 paid to…guess who?? Kerry Carter and Tracy White. Is it a coincidence that those are the two who made the final 53? I’m not suggesting that they got a free ride. Obviously they had to work like crazy to make the team, but in a way I would view them as our 8th round draft picks.

Looking at any crop of rookies, you would logically conclude that a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick is more likely to make he team than a 5th or 6th round pick. By the same token, wouldn’t an 8th round pick have a better shot than an 11th or 12th round pick? Probably not to the same degree, but based on last year there is certainly evidence that the Seahawks pay higher bonuses to certain guys for a reason.

With that in mind, our 8th-round draft choice for 2004 (imagine, if you will, the commissioner stepping to the microphone…) “GABE NYENHUIS, DEFENSIVE END, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO".

Nyenhuis received a $10,000 bonus, which is less than Carter or White, but higher than any of the other prospects for this year. I suspect the reason we didn’t pay out higher bonuses this year is the team needed more bodies to fill out the 80-man off-season roster.

The complete list of bonuses paid for undrafted rookies in 2004:

$10,000 – Nyuenhuis
$7,500 – WR Marque Davis, DB Jenaro Gilford, WR Sammy Moore, DB Arnold Parker
$5,000 – DB Jordan Babineaux, LB Isaac Brown, DB Michael Harden, DE Omar Nazel
$2,000 – K Tyler Fredrickson
No Bonus – RB Clarence Farmer, OL Ben Olson, LB Clay Roberson

The total paid to the 10 players with bonuses is $62,000. Since all the deals are two year contracts, the prorated portion for 2004 is $31,000, which is the amount that reduces the total salary cap and also the rookie pool. Our total rookie pool has been reported to be $3,106,600 (I predicted $3.1M, sorry about that) so there is $3,075,600 left over to sign our draft choices. Follow? Are you sorry you asked? If you’ve read this far you must really care about this stuff.

A few other notes on the undrafted players:

--One way to squeeze more out of the rookie pool is to sign players to 3 year contracts, thus spreading the bonuses out longer. The Cowboys were able to pay over $132,000 to 12 players by using 3-year deals. I’m not saying the Cowboys approach is better, but clearly they are more aggressive in the undrafted market.

--The undrafted player generating the most buzz on the discussion boards is probably Farmer, who didn’t receive any bonus, so keep that in mind when you’re penciling out your final roster.

--The good news is practice squads are expanded to eight players from five for 2004, so more of these guys should get a chance to hang around during the season.

If you have any cap questions, shoot me a message at hawkstorian@yahoo.com. Thanks again to adamjt13 for providing the information you aren’t getting anywhere else.


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