Seattle ahead of the game compared to past years

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Bruce Irvin’s first step as a Seahawk was impressive, even by NFL standards.

Wait. That’s not quite right. It was impressive especially by NFL standards considering Irvin signed a four-year contract with Seattle less than two weeks after the Seahawks chose him in the first round with the No. 15 overall pick.

And while the quick agreement has more to do with the NFL’s new rookie wage scale than anything else, it also said something about Irvin’s desire to get going. He was the first of the league’s 32 first-round draft choices to reach an agreement with his team.

Irvin’s addition also was a sign of the times in Seattle, where the Seahawks announced Monday afternoon that he was one of eight of the team’s 10 draft choices who have agreed to a contract. At this point, it’s actually easier to point out the who’ve not agreed yet — fourth-round selections Robert Turbin of Utah State and Jaye Howard of Florida — than the eight who have: linebacker Bobby Wagner of Utah State, quarterback Russell Wilson of Wisconsin, linebacker Korey Toomer of Idaho, cornerback Jeremy Lane of Northwestern State, safety Winston Guy of Kentucky, offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy of North Carolina State and defensive end Greg Scruggs of Louisville.

Seattle did not announce monetary terms of Irvin’s four-year deal, but Andrew Brandt, a salary-cap analyst and former NFL executive, stated it was worth $9.3 million with a signing bonus of more than $5 million. Dolphins offensive lineman Mike Pouncey, the No. 15 overall selection last year, signed a deal worth $9.2 million.

That slew of signings for the Seahawks indicates a significant change in the way NFL teams do business with their draft choices.

It wasn’t so long ago teams were hard-pressed to sign their first-round selections by August. Left tackle Russell Okung, Seattle’s top choice in 2010, missed the first six days of training. Irvin signed his deal four days before the team begins its first minicamp for rookies, although Irvin would have been able to participate in the camp regardless of whether he was signed.

Before Irvin, only two of Seattle’s past eight first-round choices signed a contract without missing a single training-camp practice: Earl Thomas in 2010 and Lawrence Jackson in 2008. None of Seattle’s first-round selections in the previous 10 years were signed by the end of June.

But comparing Irvin’s situation to deals signed before last year is misleading because there was a different economic system in place, one that did not put limits on the size of rookie contracts to the same degree as the league’s new collective-bargaining agreement. Under the terms of that agreement, which the players and owners negotiated last year, the parameters of contracts for draft choices are much more clearly defined in both length and size. The contracts are essentially slotted according to where the player was drafted.

The expectation is the new deal will end the tradition of training-camp holdouts among top choices. Last year, each of the league’s 32 first-round selections were signed within a week of training camp opening.

Expect the process to go even quicker this year, starting with the deal Monday between Irvin and the Seahawks.

Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or On Twitter @dannyoneil.

Hold on, no holdout
If Bruce Irvin’s new deal is any indication, the NFL is entering a new era in which rookie holdouts are the exception, not the norm. Of the previous 14 players chosen by Seattle in the first round, only six reported without missing any training-camp practices, and none of those six were signed by the end of June. Irvin was signed before his first minicamp and three months before training camp:
Year Player Days missed
2011 T James Carpenter 1
2010 T Russell Okung 6
2010 S Earl Thomas 0
2009 LB Aaron Curry 8
2008 DE Lawrence Jackson 0
2007 No pick
2006 CB Kelly Jennings 2
2005 C Chris Spencer 5
2004 DT Marcus Tubbs 8
2003 CB Marcus Trufant 0
2002 TE Jerramy Stevens 4
2001 WR Koren Robinson 0
2001 G Steve Hutchinson 0
2000 RB Shaun Alexander 0
2000 T Chris McIntosh 22
1999 DE Lamar King 11