Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones will most likely sign his rookie contract within the next couple of weeks or so. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Datone Jones: Should we be alarmed he remains unsigned?

With the start of training camp just about one month away, the anticipation among Green Bay Packers fans is sky-high, especially for what first round draft pick Datone Jones will show on the field

But at this point, he’s on target to be a no show as he and the Packers have yet to reach a contract agreement.

Should we be concerned?

Well we shouldn’t be alarmed in this day and age when rookie salary contracts are highly regulated and it seems pretty much like it’s become a formality. However, there are still 36 rookies who remain unsigned – Jones being among them. In all, there are 23 first-rounders who have not signed on the bottom line.

Eleven teams in the league have wrapped up all their draft choices, including NFC North foes Detroit and Chicago. Those 11 teams with all their draft choices in-house are  Buffalo BillsCarolina PanthersChicago BearsDetroit LionsNew Orleans SaintsPittsburgh SteelersSan Diego Chargers,Seattle SeahawksSt. Louis RamsTampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins.

So, don’t fret, Packers fans, there are plenty of other teams in the same boat and we should probably expect a flurry of signings across the league within the next couple of weeks. But if you are a worrier, consider the plight of the  Jacksonville Jaguars – they still have four players yet unsigned, including their fifth- and sixth-round picks.

Much of the negotiations come down to position in the draft and how much money the previous year’s pick at the position was awarded, as well as how much the players in close proximity in the draft earn.

Overall number one pick Luke Joeckel signed a four-year, $21.2 million contract over the weekend, but don’t expect Jones to be anywhere near that amount.

Because the system is now set up so that much of the negotiating is determined by the amount earned by the player drafted in a particular draft position the year previously, it’s just a matter of time. The Bears’ first round selection at number 20, Kyle Long, signed a four-year deal for $8.3 million just after the draft. With Jones being the 26th selection, it’s pretty clear the Packers and Jones are waiting for players drafted closer to him to sign to get a better feel for the pay range. They may also be negotiating the amount of guaranteed money he should receive.

But it’s not like the Packers can’t afford it. They have plenty of money in the salary cap bank – they sit nearly $17 million under the cap.

So, worry not Packers fans. Jones’ deal will get done. It’s just a matter of time … and money.

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