NFL lockout puts undrafted players in tight spot


NFL lockout puts undrafted players in tight spot

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com

Through six rounds of the NFL draft, Chris Maragos did not hear his name called.The safety from Wisconsin actually began hoping he would not get selected during the 2010 NFL draft. He wanted an opportunity to choose for himself where he had his best opportunity to succeed.Maragos got his wish. He went undrafted. And after scouring the rosters of the teams that were interested in signing him, Maragos agreed to a two-year contract with the 49ers. Four days later, he was on a plane to the Bay Area to participate in his first NFL minicamp.Although Maragos was among the 49ers' final cuts of training camp, he was re-signed to the practice squad. He spent 10 weeks on the practice squad before getting called up for the final six weeks of the NFL regular season. He saw action in three games as a rookie.The road is never easy for a undrafted rookie trying to make his way into the NFL. But during the lockout, that road has been marked with more potholes than usual.Usually, undrafted players, such as Maragos, can determine which teams give them the best chance of playing in the NFL based on where teams filled holes during free agency and the draft. In a normal offseason, undrafted free agents are the final piece of the puzzle.But in the reported "transition rules" that will take effect when the lockout is over, the period for signing undrafted free agents would begin three days before veteran free agency.RELATED: Post-ratification timeline of NFL rules
Maragos was an NFL rookie in 2010. If he had been in the 2011 draft, he said, he would not have wanted to be undrafted. After all, more than 10 weeks after the draft, those rookies who were not selected remain in limbo -- unsure of what their futures hold."This year is quite a bit different," Maragos said. "It's a huge transition from college to the NFL. I played in Big 10, so I was already acclimated to a high level of physicality. But the NFL is definitely a big jump in the level of competition. I needed the time (in the offseason) to learn the playbook, get up to speed and develop an understanding of what it takes at this level."The three-day draft saw the 32 NFL teams select 254 players. When the lockout ends, it appears as if teams will be allowed to bring a roster maximum of 90 players to camp. More than 400 undrafted players might be signed for NFL training camps in a three-day period.
"It's a very bad spot," said agent Greg Linton, who represents 10 undrafted rookies who expect to be signed once the lockout lifts."Even in a normal year undrafted free agents are against draft picks, and the draft picks always get more reps in camp. This year, it'll be even worse with (potentially) a shorter training camp. They are at a big disadvantage."MAIOCCO: 49ers prepare for NFL feeding frenzy
Among Linton's clients are three players the 49ers showed interest in before or during the draft. The 49ers in April contacted Louisville quarterback Adam Froman, a Santa Rosa native, as well as Virginia Union offensive tackle David Mims and Georgia defensive end Kiante Tripp. None was among the 254 players chosen in the seven-round NFL draft.Last year, the 49ers had rare success with their class of 11 undrafted free agents.In a seven-year period from 2003 to 2009, only one undrafted rookie broke camp on the 49ers' 53-man roster. Receiver Otis Amey made the team in 2005, and he keyed an opening week victory against the St. Louis Rams with a punt return for a touchdown.Receiver Dominique Zeigler, outside linebacker Diyral Briggs and tackle Alex Boone are among the 49ers' undrafted free agents during that period who spent time on the team's 53-man roster.Last year, the 49ers brought in an impressive haul of rookie free agents. Although just one of those players -- cornerback Tramaine Brock of Belhaven -- survived the 49ers' cuts at the end of training camp, five ended up on 53-man rosters.Brock was a surprise 49ers roster choice after an impressive training camp. He appeared in three games, making three tackles apiece on defense and special teams.Maragos also saw action in three games and registered five special-teams tackles. He says getting in the right mindset to compete is paramount to the success of undrafted players."It's like anything, it's what you do with the opportunity," Maragos said. "I walked-on at two different schools (Western Michigan and Wisconsin) and I switched positions (from receiver to safety). The coaches are going to play the best players, so it's about competing and playing hard."Linebacker Keaton Kristick (Oregon State) spent the first four weeks of the season on the 49ers' practice squad before getting the promotion. Kristick appeared in six games.Offensive tackle Matt Kopa (Stanford) spent eight weeks on the 49ers' practice squad before the Miami Dolphins signed him to their 53-man roster in November.Linebacker Mike Balogun (Oklahoma) spent time on the Washington and Tampa Bay practice squads after the 49ers cut him at the end of camp. Late in the season, he played two games for the Buffalo Bills. He is currently is on the Dallas Cowboys' roster.In addition, the 49ers initially agreed to contract terms with running back LaGarrette Blount of Oregon. Blount, though, changed his mind and signed with the Tennessee Titans. After the Titans released Blount, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked him up. He led all rookies with 1,007 yards rushing.With signed veterans and draft picks currently accounting for 60 roster spots, the 49ers will be active in signing undrafted players. And there are plenty from which to choose.
Stanford All-American center Chase Beeler has been in limbo since he was not among the 254 college players drafted. He accepted an invitation two weeks ago from 49ers tackle Joe Staley to attend the 49ers' player-organized playbook sessions at San Jose State. Beeler, of course, played at the college level for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and line coach Tim Drevno, so there's a logical connection.
Unlike a typical offseason when undrafted players do not have to wait long to sign a contract and begin working as professionals, this offseason has been tortuous."One of the things that helps the most is surrounding yourself with other guys who are undrafted free agents and who love the game and want to continue playing as much as you do," said Beeler, mentioning former Stanford teammates defensive lineman Brian Bulcke and tackle Derek Hall."We work off each other. If one of us is down on a particular day, it's on the other guys to bring him up and remember what you're working for and remembering there is light at the end of the tunnel."

49ers linebacker Foster named to NFL All-Rookie team


49ers linebacker Foster named to NFL All-Rookie team

Linebacker Reuben Foster was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America.

Foster started all 10 games in which he appeared for the 49ers after being selected with the No. 31 overall pick out of Alabama. Foster finished second on the 49ers with 72 tackles. He had seven tackles for loss, ranking No. 2 on the team behind rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

Foster was one of three linebackers selected as an all-rookie performer. Thomas, the No. 3 overall draft pick, was not among the four defensive linemen honored.

[MAIOCCO: Ex-agent says Reuben Foster's arrest could void salary guarantees]

Foster was selected as the winner of the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. He missed five games early in the season with a high ankle sprain and another game with a ribs injury.

The NFL’s top defensive rookie was New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who recorded five interceptions and scored a touchdown while making 13 starts.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
CO-OFFENSIVE ROOKIES OF THE YEAR: RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs and RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: CB Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints

QB – Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
RB – Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs; Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
WR – Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams; Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
TE – Evan Engram, New York Giants
C – Pat Elflein, Minnesota Vikings
G – Dan Feeney, Los Angeles Chargers; Jermaine Eluemunor, Baltimore Ravens, and Ethan Pocic, Seattle Seahawks (tie)
T – Garett Bolles, Denver Broncos; Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints

DL – Derek Barnett, Philadelphia Eagles; Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns; Carl Lawson, Cincinnati Bengals; Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants
LB – Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions; Reuben Foster, San Francisco 49ers; T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
CB – Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints; Tre'Davious White, Buffalo Bills
S – Jamal Adams, New York Jets; Marcus Williams, New Orleans Saints

Special Teams
PK – Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs
P – Rigoberto Sanchez, Indianapolis Colts
KR – Ryan Switzer, Dallas Cowboys
PR – Jamal Agnew, Detroit Lions
ST – Budda Baker, Arizona Cardinals

Ex-agent says Reuben Foster's arrest could void salary guarantees


Ex-agent says Reuben Foster's arrest could void salary guarantees

Reuben Foster’s arrest Friday night on marijuana charges in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is likely to void $2.5 million in salary guarantees, according to a former NFL agent.

Joel Corry, appearing on the 49ers Insider Podcast, said there is language in Foster’s contract that voids the salary guarantees if he is fined under the NFL’s Policy on Substances of Abuse.

“Typically with veteran contracts, you must be suspended . . . in order to have contract guarantees void,” said Corry, whose work appears on CBS Sports. “What we’ve seen in rookie deals is they’ve extended that to getting fined, as well.”

According to a league source familiar with the 49ers’ structure on rookie contracts, the team’s standard practice is to void guarantees with fines. The 49ers were not harder on Foster because of a failed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine due to a diluted sample.

Foster was released on $2,500 bond on Friday evening after being booked on second-degree marijuana possession, according to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office.

Under the NFL’s Policy on Substances of Abuse, the first offense for a violation of Stage Two, if marijuana, includes a fine equivalent to the pay of two game checks.

In Foster’s original contract, his entire scheduled salaries of $875,708 in 2018 and $1.286 million in 2019 were fully guaranteed. In addition, $339,000 of his scheduled $1.697 salary in 2020 was guaranteed.

“What that means is,” Corry said, “he doesn’t get the money, no matter what, any more. But he can still make the same money that’s in the contract on a non-guaranteed basis, but you don’t have the same security as you did before.

“So if his rookie year turns out to be an anomaly or off-the-field issues end up being problematic, it gives the 49ers more latitude to either ask him a pay cut or to release him.”

Foster started all 10 games in which he appeared for the 49ers as a rookie. The first-round draft pick from Alabama recorded 72 tackles.