that meant the difference between selecting Texas A&M defensive end Chris Harrington (Arizona's sixth-round pick at 19) and Michigan State defensive end Ervin Baldwin (Chicago's first pick in the seventh). Harrington spent 10 weeks on the Cardinals' practice squad before Cincinnati signed him to its 53-man roster for the final three games of the season. Baldwin spent the first nine weeks on Chicago's practice squad, then was signed to the 53-man roster where he was a game-day inactive for the final seven.
Catching my drift? So to me, between what the Cowboys already had in the third and sixth rounds and the difference between the sixth given and seventh received, they basically traded the equivalent of a first-round pick for Williams.
And let me take this one step further: This is not the year to have nine draft choices, let alone 11, and certainly not the year for your first to be later than No. 15 or 20. See, because of 2010 potentially becoming an uncapped year, the salary cap rules change for 2009, including player contracts. You watch, because of the 30-percent yearly salary increase rule, there will be teams less than enchanted with who they are picking in the 20's of the first round, and for sure in the 30's, trying to bail out into the second round - or next year. Why pay first-round signing bonuses for basically second-round talent?
Also, and pay attention, don't drift on me now. This is important. Teams cutting or trading players during the 2009 NFL calendar year (Feb. 28 through the end of the season) with unaccounted signing bonus proration will be charged the full acceleration against the 2009 cap, and I'm talking immediately, not a portion this year and all the rest next year. You know, like how the final three prorated years of Owens' $12.9 million signing bonus is costing the Cowboys $9.675 million this year.
Well, if a 2009 draft choice or rookie free agent fails to make your team, and I'm guessing out of nine drafted players (but potentially 11 if all are used) and what, maybe seven to 10 signed rookie free agents, only seven or so might make the Cowboys' final 53-man roster, then the team will be charged the entire signing bonus against this year's salary cap.
For the Cowboys, already dealing with $21 million of dead money for released players so far this year and last, that is not a frivolous sum.
For example, last year Cowboys sixth-round pick Erik Walden was given a $133,875 signing bonus. Only $44,625 counted last year and the remaining $89,250 counts this year. Well this year, because of the potentially uncapped 2010 season and wanting to prevent teams from pushing money into that season unconscionably, the entire $133,875 would count against the cap. No proration allowed.
And brother, you had better not make a mistake on like a third-round pick, say the fifth pick the Cowboys have in that round, someone projected to receive a $900,000 signing bonus. Because all of that signing bonus will escalate into this year's cap.
Also, when it comes to signing rookie free agents, the Cowboys must be very careful. Those guys normally are paid signing bonuses in the range of $5,000 to $12,000, although some are given as much as $20,000, depending if a minor bidding war between multiple teams breaks out. Well, eating those bonuses all in the same year can add up, and what, maybe one out of seven of those guys signed makes your team. The odds are against you.
Take last year. Guys such as Danny Amendola and Marcus Dixon received three-year deals with $12,000 signing bonuses. Even though they were placed on the practice squad, technically they were cut. Because of that, both are counting just more than $8,000 apiece against the Cowboys' cap this year for the final two years of prorated signing bonus. Say that happens this year with like three of those guys paid as much. That would be $36,000 right out the window. Might not seem like much, but get four of those guys and you have just wasted nearly the full-year salary of a practice squad player.
So look, let's not become overly hysterical about the Cowboys giving up three draft choices for Williams. They really didn't. They gave up a first, that's