The Bears have finally signed all of their 2016 draft picks after inking 3rd rounder DE Jonathan Bulllard to a 4-year deal yesterday. Bullard, from Florida, was graded as a late-first or early-second round pick by most sites (I had him 41st overall).
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It was unusual for the Bears to take this long to lock up all of their picks, which could be due to former chief negotiator Cliff Stein no longer in the same role with the Bears. GM Ryan Pace kept Stein with the team, naming him General Counsel. Pace brought over Joey Laine from the Saints to take over Stein’s old role.
It seems like a strange move as the Bears were always one of the first teams to have their picks signed and had a healthy amount of cap space under Stein’s watch, while the Saints are seemingly in cap trouble every season. To be fair, some of the cap trouble was due to Drew Brees and his $30M contract, but Stein had a reputation as one of the most creative capologists in the league. So far Pace and Laine have been fiscally responsible, but the jury is still out.
The terms of Bullard’s deal haven’t been released yet. Under the collective bargaining agreement, there is a strict range on what players can make depending on where they were drafted, but the first half of the third round is the last portion of the draft that has a little more leeway in salary. It will be interesting to see what Bullard’s contract ends up being, considering how long he took to sign and that he was projected to go significantly higher in the draft. I’ll update this post with Bullard’s official salary number once it’s released.