|The Pats now have all their draft picks under contract. (US PRESSWIRE)|
With training camps set to open around the NFL starting next week, the remaining unsigned draft picks are coming to terms with their new employers. The Redskins got quarterback Robert Griffin III under contract early Tuesday, and hours later, the Patriots inked the second of their two first-rounders, linebacker Dont'a Hightower. The team signed pass-rushing specialist Chandler Jones in late May.
Both Hightower and Jones upgrade a Patriots defense that was among the league's worst against the run and the pass. According to Football Outsiders, New England ranked 30th in defensive efficiency (25th vs. the run, 28th vs. the pass). While Chandler is considered raw and will likely be used exclusively in passing situations (similar perhaps to how the 49ers used Aldon Smith a year ago), Hightower is expected to contribute early.
ProFootballTalk.com reports that the 25th overall pick out of Alamaba signed a four-year deal with an option for a fifth. NFL.comadds that contract is worth approximately $7.7 million, including some $6.2 million in guarantees.
The Boston Herald points out that because Hightower was the last New England draft pick to sign, both Hightower's agent and the organization knew exactly how much money remained in the rookie pool. The only hang-up to a contract was the guaranteed money (which has been a familiar refrain among first-rounders this offseason).
As it stands, 13 first-round picks remain unsigned, including seven of the top eight selections.
The Patriots rookies report for camp this Thursday, with the veterans set to report on Wednesday, July 25.
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