Thanks to rookie slotting system, draft holdouts are a thing of the past

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Shazier, the Steelers first round pick, is signed, sealed and delivered, thanks to reaching an agreement on a rookie contract, this past Thursday. With the slotting system now in place for draft picks, the days of long and dramatic rookie holdouts are just about gone, and the final weeks of the offseason aren't as eventful as they used to be.

"See, this is why Shazier should have been in camp, right from the beginning!"

This is a quote you won't hear or read from Steelers fans during the 2014 season, thanks to the speedy and uneventful signing of Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh's first round pick out of Ohio State.

In years gone by, the contract status of a first round pick, with camp closing in fast, used to make for some great drama.

And if the top rookie was a training camp holdout, man, you could almost see the steam coming off the head coach's cranium as he made a statement such as, "Obviously, I would like (insert rookie holdout here) to be at the facility, but obviously, he is not. Obviously, we will proceed without (insert rookie holdout here), and hopefully, he'll be with us, soon, so he can begin to immerse himself in the playbook and become accustomed to how we do things around here."

Then, after making this typical passive/aggressive statement, my guess is the coach went somewhere to punch a wall, because, damn it, rookies should be in camp, potential danger of losing millions due to freak injury, be damned!

The rookie's new teammates would often publicly plead with him to get his butt to training camp, so he could quickly become part of their cohesive fraternity (and get dunked in ice water and/or pay for everyone's cruelly high dinner tab, one night).

The media had no problem stirring up the drama and getting the fans even more outraged  than usual (crazy, I know), by conducting online polls with titles such as, "Do you think (insert rookie holdout here) should be in camp? Yes or no."

Of course, "Yes" would win with like 94% of the vote, with five percent siding with the holdout (probably him with multiple user accounts), and one percent voting for "other," and then writing "Roger Godell is such an ass!" in the comments section.

Yes sir, those sure were the days.

Things are different now, thanks to some of the negotiated aspects of the new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) that was hashed out by players and owners three years ago during the 2011 lockout.

Now, unless a first round rookie is just plain crazy and irrational, he knows his first contract will be four years long, and his pay will mostly be determined by where he was drafted, and there isn't a whole lot he can do about it.

As for the fans, we now have one less thing to complain about (and to blame a first rounder's poor performance on), and things just aren't going to be as fun as they used to be.

Thankfully, for fans who are prone to outrage, they may still have a place to unleash their anger.

Despite his 4.4 speed, Shazier isn't a tall receiver. And cornerback Bradley Roby, a Buckeye and former college teammate of Shazier, was still available when Pittsburgh was on the clock.

"See, this is why they should have drafted a tall receiver or Roby when they had the chance!"

Oh, and Shazier might get hurt at some point, too, which will no doubt be the result of poor team conditioning.

"See, this is why John Norwig should have been fired in the offseason!"

At least we can still complain about some things.

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