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What is holding up the Steelers from signing their last 2 draft picks?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing to head into their second week of Phase Three of OTA‘s. With two more weeks to go as well as mandatory minicamp, the Steelers have less than a month of working together before the early summer hiatus ahead of training camp.

One of the orders of business for the Steelers to handle while players are in town before they all go their separate ways is getting their rookie draft class under contract. The Steelers quickly announced five of their seven draft picks being signed during rookie camp just over two weeks ago. But for the top two picks in 2024 by the Steelers, they have yet to sign their contracts.

So what’s the holdup?

Since the collective bargaining agreement of 2011, the rookie wage scale has majorly cut down the negotiations of rookie contracts and has, in essence, taken the option of holding out off the table. Drafted players are allowed to participate in minicamps and OTAs without having to sign their contract, so there is no rush to get things done in order to get the players onto the field.

So the question remains, what is the holdup?

For the most part, any kind of negotiations going on with rookie contracts are quite minor and usually come down to exactly how the payout is structured with salaries versus bonuses, as well as the amount of guaranteed money. For first-round draft picks, it is quite common for the entire rookie contract to be guaranteed. But as the number of the overall selection where player was taken increases, the amount of guaranteed money within the contract typically decreases.

For this reason, sometimes it takes more players continuing to sign, particularly those drafted close to where a player was taken, in order to set the precedence of how the contract should be structured. Remembering back to 2023, second-round draft pick Joey Porter Jr. did not sign his contract until the day before the Steelers reported to training camp in Latrobe. But Porter found himself in a different situation as he was the 32nd overall draft pick but not selected in the first round. Being taken one spot ahead of quarterback Will Levis, it made sense for Porter to wait and see how things played out with somebody else taken at the top of the second round to see his negotiating power. With Levis not signing his contract until July 22, Porter signing his on July 25 wasn’t an outlandish outcome.

So how did it work out with Porter? With 31st overall pick Felix Anudike-Uzomah getting a fully guaranteed contract, Levis signed his deal where all but about $800k was guaranteed. For Porter, he ended up with all but about $600k guaranteed in his deal. In all, the numbers ended up falling correctly based on draft order.

But what could be the hold up with a first-round draft pick if it will all be guaranteed anyway? Looking at Broderick Jones and his deal last year, even though it is all guaranteed the allotment isn’t the same as Jones has a roster bonus in Year 2 through Year 4 of his contract. So it is things like this which could be negotiated.

Looking at the two players the Steelers have not signed yet for 2024, first-round draft pick Troy Fautanu and second-round draft pick Zach Frazier, there is a reasonable explanation as to why they are left unsigned. According to, there is only one draft pick from selection 17 through selection 28 who has signed his rookie deal in 24th overall pick Terrion Arnold. The 20th section, Fautanu is in the middle of the chunk of players that have not signed their contract.

As for Zach Frazier, the 51st overall pick of the 2024 draft, he is in a similar situation as well. According to Spotrac, no players from selection 47 through 60 have signed the rookie deals. If players are waiting to get the best breakdown possible, it will likely take more filling in of players selected around them in order to better work out all the details.

Since the Steelers are two months away from training camp, an event so far out the Steelers have not announced the dates at this time, there isn’t any reason to fret over two draft picks remaining unsigned. In fact, even if a player isn’t signed as they report to training camp, it would not be surprising. Until they actually begin to miss team activities in late July, something that has not happened with the Steelers since the implementation of the rookie wage scale, would it be a concern. Otherwise, it’s completely normal for neither Troy Fautanu or Zach Frazier to be under contract at this time based on the status of those players drafted close to them.


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