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Steelers sign 2 draft picks to 4-year deals

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Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Third-round pick Alameda Ta'amu apparently is still part of the Steelers' plans, as the team decided against cutting him Wednesday.
By Scott Brown
Sunday, May 6, 2012, 6:14 p.m.

A busy weekend ended with the Steelers taking care of some business off the field.

The team signed nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu and running back Chris Rainey to four-year contracts Sunday, locking up two of their nine picks from the NFL Draft.

A cap on rookie contracts has made it easier for teams to sign their new players. The Steelers were allotted just over $28 million to spend on their draft picks over the life of the deals, and they shouldn't have a problem getting all of those players under contract before the start of training camp.

Ta'amu, a fourth-round pick out of Washington, and Rainey, a fifth-rounder from Florida, were among players who participated in rookie minicamp over the weekend.

Ta'amu is a potential long-term successor to Casey Hampton, who is in the final year of his contract and his recovering from offseason knee surgery. Rainey could give the Steelers a big-play threat at several positions, and he may get first crack to take over for Antonio Brown as the team's primary punt returner.

The Steelers traditionally have signed picks taken after the second round to three-year contracts. The collective bargaining agreement ratified last year mandates four-year contracts for all drafted players except for first-round picks. First-round picks sign four-year deals with a team option for a fifth year.

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