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Bills sign T.J. Graham; all draftees under contract

By Tim Graham

Rules in the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement pretty much removed any leverage a rookie could have when it comes to holding out before his first contract.

Nevertheless, it's a milestone when a team gets all of its draft picks signed. The Buffalo Bills announced today they've signed receiver T.J. Graham, the third-round draft choice out of North Carolina State they traded up to select.

All nine of the Bills' draft picks are under contract.

Graham competed in voluntary workouts and minicamp under an insurance-oriented provision that, in the case he were to suffer a serious injury, he would be compensated and his healthcare covered.

Graham's contract details have not been disclosed, but there won't be any surprises. The CBA makes sure of that.

Rookies lost control because the CBA's rookie wage scale essentially slots players into financial terms based on their draft order. All players drafted from the second round and later get four-year deals. First-round picks can have a fifth-year team option.

The process gives rookies and their agents very little wiggle room to hammer out a deal, and third-rounders didn't have much even under the previous CBA. The main things to negotiate for rookies now are the signing bonuses. Playing-time bonuses also are permitted, but guidelines for those are spelled out in the CBA, too.

So Graham's contract was a mere formality. But here we are, about three weeks before players report to St. John Fisher for training camp, and all the draft picks are accounted for.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |