IRVING, Texas – While we thought this year might be way different than others in terms of signing draft picks, it still took until the week of training camp to get them all completed.
But the Cowboys have officially signed their entire draft class, finishing with first-round pick Morris Claiborne, who inked his four-year deal on Monday, just in time to participate in this week's start to training camp. The Cowboys have a club option for a fifth season if they desire.
The deal is worth $16.4 million, including a $10.3 million signing bonus. All of the deal is fully guaranteed.
"I'm definitely excited. I'm glad to get it behind me," Claiborne said. "Now I can put all my focus on football. I didn't want to miss any time. I've missed a lot of time already. I'm ready to get started. Everything is ready to roll."
There is no offset language in the contract, meaning if the Cowboys were to cut Claiborne before the fourth season, they would still be obligated to pay the rest of his guaranteed money, while the cornerback would also be able to collect additional money if he signed with another team. Offset language would only force the original team to pay the difference of the two contracts.
When Robert Griffin III signed his contract with the Redskins last week without the offset language, it set a domino-effect that trickled down to the rest of the top picks.
Still, the Cowboys are hoping that doesn't matter. If Claiborne is truly the player they think he is, cutting him after two or three years will never be discussed.
The Cowboys will practice three days, beginning Wednesday for all rookies and selected veterans. And Claiborne will be cleared to practice for the first time since being drafted.
Claiborne has missed the entire summer of practices because of a wrist injury that required surgery prior to the NFL Draft. The Cowboys made a surprising move to jump from 14th to No. 6 to land Claiborne, the player they had ranked second overall on their draft board behind only Stanford's Andrew Luck.
While Claiborne was never cleared to practice, he did as much as he could, often shadowing the right cornerbacks during team drills, making sure he knew where to line up in different defensive packages.
Claiborne is expected to start right away on the right side, opposite free-agent addition Brandon Carr, who will man the left cornerback spot. The Cowboys also have Orlando Scandrick, who has been the team's slot cornerback the last four years, and Mike Jenkins, who hasn't practiced this summer because of shoulder surgery he underwent after the season. In fact, Jenkins likely won't be ready to participate anytime soon and is expected to begin camp on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform).
So Claiborne's readiness is essential, not only because the Cowboys need his playmaking skills, but also for depth purposes.
The Cowboys are also high on some other rookie cornerbacks they signed after the draft. Undrafted free agents Isaac Madison (Arkansas) and Lionel Smith (Texas A&M) both had good summer practices and have legitimate shots at making the 53-man roster.
As for the rest of the draft class, the other six draft picks all signed during the middle of June during the last minicamp.