Is it concerning the Bears haven’t signed Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze? Dave Wannstedt weighs in


Is it concerning the Bears haven’t signed Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze? Dave Wannstedt weighs in originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Both Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze have yet to sign their respective rookie contracts.

Now one week away before rookies report to Bears training camp, this could steamroll into a problem. Rookies report on July 16 and veterans follow on July 19.

If Williams and Odunze don’t sign by then, there could be trouble.

“There will be as we get close to the week before training camp,” former Bears head coach Dave Wannstedt said on NBC Sports Chicago’s “Football Night in Chicago” if there is any concern. “I don’t really know the details as far as what they would be getting. Because everything, as we all know, is slotted in now from a contract standpoint. It’s not like it was in the old days. I just know there are five first-round draft picks, including Caleb, that are not signed.”

Remember, from the league’s collective bargaining agreement, rookies are slotted to a contract number based on where they’re selected in the NFL Draft. For Williams, his four-year deal is expected to be worth $39.4 million with a $25.5 million signing bonus. Odunze’s four-year deal is an expected $22.7 million deal with a $13.3 million signing bonus.

There’s very little rookies can negotiate with their first deals in the NFL. They can negotiate how much of their signing bonus they get up front, incentives, bonuses and guaranteed money.

Jaquan Brisker held out shortly during his rookie offseason training camp as his agent negotiated the amount of guaranteed money he would receive in the latter years of his contract.

Williams, unlike most players and rookies, does not have an NFLPA-certified agent. He has a team of lawyers and attorneys that help him work out his contracts.

If one of Williams or Odunze doesn’t sign their respective rookie contracts before July 16, they won’t be able to report to training camp. And that’s where things get messy, according to Wannstedt.

“I’ll tell you what, a week from now I would start getting a little bit antsy because he cannot … It’s not just the work he’s gonna miss, it’s a distraction,” Wannstedt said. “Trust me, I’ve lived it with Rashaan Salaam, I lived it with Curtis Enis. They both did it. Did they miss work? Yes. But it’s a distraction for the team because that’s all the media wants to talk about.”

It’ll become a real distraction if Williams or Odunze isn’t in attendance for training camp in one week. But on June 10, Williams didn’t sweat about not signing his rookie deal right away.

“I’m not handling that,” Williams said of his contract after the final practice of Bears mandatory minicamp at Halas Hall in early June. “I’ve been focused on these past three days of minicamp, the OTAs before that and rookie camp before that. I haven’t been focused on that. Poles and my team have been focused on that. I have lawyers and attorneys to handle things like that so I can be free-minded on the field, enjoying coming into work every day and working my tail off.”

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