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CB Joey Porter Jr. only Steelers rookie yet to sign, just days from start of 2023 NFL Training Camp

What happens if he and the Steelers don’t reach a deal by Thursday?

Top prospect Joey Porter Jr. is introduced during the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 27, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are just days out from the start of their 2023 Training Camp sessions, with rookies and veterans reporting on Thursday, July 26. With No. 32 overall pick Joey Porter Jr. as the only rookie that remains unsigned from the Steelers’ 2023 draft class, fans are left to wonder if the team will be able to get the deal done before the start of camp.

Porter Jr. participated in the team’s mandatory minicamp back in May, getting work in with the first-team defense. Attending minicamps and organized team activities (OTAs) works a little differently than training camp does, however, as unsigned rookies participate under limited contracts, paid standard rates for their participation, which do not need to be negotiated.

Given the rookie wage scale in place under the current CBA, the total value of Porter’s deal probably isn’t what’s currently being negotiated. Rather, when there are delays for rookies in the signing process, it’s usually due to negotiations regarding a signing bonus or contract guarantees.

Should the contract dispute carry on through this week, there is a risk that Porter Jr. would miss a portion of training camp. An absence from the rookie corner could be significant, as the Steelers secondary received a major overhaul this offseason amidst the departure of Cam Sutton in free agency and new signings including veterans CB Patrick Peterson, CB Chandon Sullivan, and S Keanu Neal. With the number of new faces set to join star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary, they’ll need to take advantage of every rep they can with one another to ensure a strong start to the season.

Last season, second-round Ravens LB David Ojabo was the last remaining draft pick to sign his rookie contract, holding out from training camp until eventually agreeing to terms and signing with the team on August 2, 2022. Ojabo’s situation was a little different, granted, as he was rehabbing a ruptured Achilles suffered in the pre-draft process, meaning he wouldn’t have been taking reps anyway, with less for him to miss out on.

Could Joey Porter Jr. be fined if he holds out of training camp?

Technically, if Joey Porter Jr. does not sign his rookie contract by the start of training camp, he will not actually be an employee of the team, meaning he would not be subject to fines.

What if a rookie never signs his rookie contract?

According to NFL Operations, “If a drafted rookie has not signed with his club by [August 8], he cannot be traded to any other club in 2023 and may sign a player contract only with the drafting club until the day of the Draft in the 2024 League Year.”

In theory, this means that if a rookie were to hold out for the entire season without signing his contract with the team that drafted him, he could reenter the NFL Draft in the following season, a process outlined more extensively here on Pro Football Network.

Here’s a look at the Steelers rookie contracts that have been signed, including total value, signing bonus, and guarantees.

Steelers Rookie Contracts

Round Pick player Position College Years Total value Signing Bonus 2023 Cap Hit
Round Pick player Position College Years Total value Signing Bonus 2023 Cap Hit
1 14 Broderick Jones T Georgia 4 $16,626,352 $9,091,892 $3,022,973
2 32 Joey Porter Jr. CB Penn State Unsigned N/A N/A N/A
2 49 Keeanu Benton DT Wisconsin 4 $7,333,121 $2,333,180 $1,333,295
3 93 Darnell Washington TE Georgia 4 $5,353,909 $893,752 $973,438
4 132 Nick Herbig LB Wisconsin 4 $4,512,920 $672,920 $918,230
7 241 Cory Trice Jr. CB Purdue 4 $3,924,436 $84,436 $771,109
7 251 Spencer Anderson G Maryland 4 $3,917,776 $77,776 $769,444