10 undrafted rookies get $5K bonuses
The Green Bay Packers had a lot of roster spots available once the NFL draft wrapped two weeks ago and handed out plenty of $5,000 signing bonuses to help fill them.
Ten players received the Packers' highest bonus this year, according to a league source with access to the NFLPA salary database. That included North Dakota State running back John Crockett, a combine invitee who's viewed by many NFL pundits to be the Packers' top undrafted signee.
The rest are receivers Ricky Collins (Texas A&M Commerce), Adrian Coxson (Stony Brook) and Jimmie Hunt (Missouri), offensive lineman Matt Rotheram (Pittsburgh), linebackers James Vaughters (Stanford), Jermauria Rasco (LSU), and Tavarus Dantzler (Bethune-Cookman), cornerback LaDarius Gunter (Miami) and tight end Mitchell Henry (Western Kentucky).
Fayetteville State offensive lineman Marcus Reed and Kentucky receiver Javess Blue each received $4,000 bonuses with Colorado State cornerback Bernard Blake and Louisiana-Lafayette running back Alonzo Harris getting $3,500 apiece.
Receiver Larry Pinkard, who didn't play last season after a dismissal from the Old Dominion football team, was given a $3,000 bonus to sign. Arizona 6-foot-8 offensive lineman Fabbians Ebbele signed for $2,000 while Ole Miss defensive lineman Lavon Hooks and Central Michigan offensive lineman Andy Phillips didn't receive a bonus.
This year, NFL teams are allowed to disperse up to $86,957 in bonus money among its undrafted rookie class and can choose to guarantee a portion of the contract. The base salaries are identical: Three-year deals at the NFL minimums of $435,000 this year, $525,000 in 2015, and $615,000 in 2016.
The Packers traditionally don't use their entire allotment and have only given more than $5,000 to a single player once since 2012. Offensive lineman Lane Taylor signed for $7,000 in 2013.
This year is a step up from last year when the Packers gave out only five $5,000 bonuses among their 14 undrafted free agents and spent only $50,500 to sign the entire class. However, it makes sense why the Packers may have spent a little more this year.
The Packers had 18 roster spots available after selecting eight players in the NFL draft. The college free-agency period is a rapid process, so teams sometimes will add a few extra dollars to get contracts done quickly so they can move onto their next target.
So far, the Packers have used $70,000, or 80 percent of their bonus money allotment. on undrafted players.
It's not the be-all and end-all for undrafted rookies. Safety Chris Banjo made the roster in 2013 after receiving no guaranteed money. However, signing bonuses often reflect how coveted certain players were in the college free-agency process.
In 2011, the Packers paid $8,500 to sign BYU linebacker Vic So'oto and another $7,500 for Utah State's Diondre Borel. In 2010, it took $7,500 for Green Bay to land perhaps its biggest undrafted success story: Pro Bowl cornerback Sam Shields.
Undrafted prospects sometimes have to weigh money and opportunity when deciding who to sign with. Rotheram said last week he turned down more money to sign with the Packers because there was a better opportunity to make the 53-man roster since Green Bay didn't draft an offensive lineman this year.
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This report has been updated since originally published with bonus amounts for tight end Mitchell Henry and offensive lineman Andy Phillips.
Past bonuses for undrafted rookies who made 53-man roster
2014: OLB Jayrone Elliott ($5,000), DT Mike Pennel ($3,500)
2013: G Lane Taylor ($7,000), OLB Andy Mulumba ($5,000), S Chris Banjo ($0)
2012: S Sean Richardson ($5,000), OL Don Barclay ($2,500), OLB Dezman Moses ($3,500), WR Jarrett Boykin ($0)
2011: OLB Vic So'oto ($8,500), LB Jamari Lattimore ($5,000), S M.D. Jennings ($2,500)
2010: CB Sam Shields ($7,500), OL Nick McDonald ($4,000), OLB Frank Zombo ($3,500)
2009: OL Evan Smith ($3,000)
Packers' 2015 undrafted signings
RB John Crockett $5,000
WR Ricky Collins $5,000
WR Jimmie Hunt $5,000
WR Adrian Coxson $5,000
OL Matt Rotheram $5,000
LB Tavarus Dantzler $5,000
LB James Vaughters $5,000
LB Jermauria Rasco $5,000
CB LaDarius Gunter $5,000
TE Mitchell Henry $5,000
WR Javess Blue $4,000
OL Marcus Reed $4,000
CB Bernard Blake $3,500
RB Alonzo Harris $3,500
WR Larry Pinkard $3,000
OL Fabbians Ebbele $2,000
DT Lavon Hooks $0
OL Andy Phillips $0