Fifth round pick Kendrick Lewis became the first Chiefs draft pick to agree to terms this week. The Chiefs, per club policy, did not release any financial terms of the deal.
Lewis has standard base salaries of $320,000 in 2010, $405,000 in 2011, $490,000 in 2012, and Lewis' $575,000 base salary in 2013 can increase by as much as $845,000, which would push the maximum value of his four-year deal to $2.841 million dollars.
There are some other details that make this a unique contract.
Last year, we learned that the Chiefs had been signing their late round picks to three-year deals (known as the Pittsburgh model) so the presumption was that Lewis was no different and received three years and a signing bonus in line with the contracts signed before and after him.
However, McIntrye reports that it was a four-year deal -- but with no signing bonus.
Instead, McIntrye reports, Lewis received a roster bonus of $206,900 on July 1 that was fully guaranteed. Per the NFL's slotting system, if he had received a signing bonus it likely would have been in the same neighborhood as that number so, for Lewis, the money comes out the same.
So why did the Chiefs do this? Frankly, I'm not sure. Two things are puzzling about this:
First, A signing bonus could be spread out over the life of the contract which would lessen the impact on the rookie pool. A roster bonus is not. As McIntyre says, this is a puzzling approach with a top five pick left to sign.
Second -- and this isn't as big of a deal -- but the roster bonus isn't subject to forfeiture in the event Lewis violates his contract in some way.
I'll try to track down some more details on this but right now I'm not sure why it was structured this way. Knowing the Chiefs, there was some sort of advantage that people like myself have yet to comprehend.