Ravens third-round picks remain unsigned 3 weeks before training camp

Ravens, Brandon Stephens Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens, Brandon Stephens Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports /

Three months after the 2021 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens have five of their seven-man rookie class under contract.

With just 24 days to go before training camp opens in Owings Mills, the Ravens have successfully signed wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace, outside linebackers Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes, defensive back Shaun Wade, and fullback Ben Mason.

Only two Ravens draft picks remain unsigned. Both were selected in the third round — guard Ben Cleveland and defensive back Brandon Stephens.

A similar scenario is taking place all over the NFL. Out of the 46 draft picks across the league that have yet to sign with their teams, a stunning 27 came from the third round.

The Ravens aren’t the only team not to sign their third-round picks.

With all of the spotlight on the big names that came off the board in the first round, it’s hard to pinpoint a reason for why so many third-rounders have yet to ink their deals yet.

Ever since the signing of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, the scope of what incoming rookies can negotiate into their first contracts has been severely narrowed. No longer do we see bloated rookie contracts on the scale of what JaMarcus Russell and Sam Bradford received.

Third-round draft choices are in that awkward position between the higher-round picks, who have more freedom to negotiate, and the lower-round picks, who are usually stuck with whatever their teams hand them and little more.

According to Spotrac, the third-round picks last season made, on average, $4.64 million not counting signing bonuses. That’s a steep drop-off from second-rounders, who earned $6.77 million.

With that said, it’s hard to imagine why Cleveland and Stephens would not eventually join the Ravens.

Even if there were some friction in negotiations, the players would not hold much leverage compared to the likes of, say, Trevor Lawrence or even Rashod Bateman (we’re not saying it’s fair, but that’s the way it is).

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Tylan Wallace is the most recent of the Ravens’ draft picks to sign his rookie deal. The fourth-round wide receiver from Oklahoma State signed on May 14.