Sam Bradford became the highest-paid rookie in NFL history when the St Louis Rams signed the quarterback to a six-year contract worth US$50m. Bradford, a Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma and the top selection in the college draft, is guaranteed US$50 million (Dh183m) from his $78m deal, which could be worth as much as $86m if he and the team reach certain statistical milestones.
The Friday signing allows Bradford to report to training camp on time, which is a great relief to the Rams' coach, Steve Spagnuolo. "We all need all the time," he said. "I needed the time. It will just be a crash course." Bradford is the centrepiece of the Rams' rebuilding task. The club were 1-15 last year and have won only six of their past 48 games. The Rams were the lowest-scoring team in the NFL last season at 10.9 points per game.
The journeyman AJ Feeley is listed as the team's top quarterback, but Bradford could be the starter when the season begins. The quarterback Matthew Stafford last year signed with Detroit for $71m, with $41m guaranteed, previously had the biggest rookie deal. Elsewhere, the Houston Texans signed their top two draft picks and said they are nearing an agreement with Andre Johnson, the NFL's top receiver last season.
Kareem Jackson, a cornerback and the 20th pick in the draft, signed for five years and $13.1m. He is expected to move immediately into the starting line-up. Ben Tate, a running back and second-round choice, also came to terms. Johnson is under contract and has arrived at the team's training camp, but he wants to renegotiate a seven-year, $60m contract two years after he signed it. He led the NFL with 1,569 receiving yards last season and wants to be the league's highest-paid receiver. Bob McNair, the club owner, is confident an agreement can be reached. "We told him we would get it done, and that is what we will do," McNair said.
The San Francisco 49ers came to terms with their two first-round draft picks, Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, who are meant to beef up their offensive line. Davis, a tackle and the 11th pick, signed for $26m; Iupati, a guard and the 17th pick, got a contract worth $18.3m, according to local media. The veteran receiver Laveranues Coles, 32, came to terms with the New York Jets, marking the start of his third stint with the club. He spent three seasons with the Jets beginning in 2000 and four more starting in 2005. He played in Cincinnati last season, catching 43 passes for 514 yards and five touchdowns.