The Bills and every other club in the league has the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to thank for the rapidity with which draft choices in general and specifically first-round picks have signed. It’s less than a month since the 2012 draft and Buffalo’s top pick is already signed along with six others across the NFL. That hasn’t happened in Buffalo in a long time.
Taking a look back as prior Bills first-round picks, I’ve only found two that I can verify signed prior to Gilmore’s May 17th date.
WR Jerry Butler, who was one of two first-round picks in 1979, signed his contract on May 9th, just six days after the NFL draft was held that year (May 3rd).
The only other Bills first-round pick since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that I’ve found to sign before Gilmore was TE Reuben Gant in 1974. He has the earliest signing date of March 26th, but it comes with an asterisk because back then the draft was held in late January instead of late April.
The most recent early signee was OL Ruben Brown in 1995, who signed his rookie deal on June 20th 17 years ago.
It’s undoubtedly a welcome departure from the past couple of decades of lengthy negotiations and holdouts.
Tags: 1st round picks, Jerry Butler, NFL Draft, Reuben Gant, Ruben Brown, Stephon Gilmore
Posted in Inside the Bills