They have a chance to start as rookies, a rarity for the Steelers. So, fittingly, first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones and second-rounder Le'Veon Bell signed four-year contracts hours apart Monday.
Based on the NFL rookie wage scale, Jones is expected to make about $8.8 million, with $4.8 million as a signing bonus. Bell's deal likely is to be in the range of $4.3 million, with a $1.4 million signing bonus.
Jones, an outside linebacker from Georgia, will get a chance to replace former Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison in the lineup. He was the No. 17 overall pick in the April draft and, as the top pass rusher in major college football, was seen as a natural fit for a pass rush-heavy team like the Steelers that runs a 3-4 defense.
Jones had 14 1⁄2 sacks and 24 1⁄2 tackles for a loss last season. But he apparently injured a hamstring during his pro day workout, and he said recently he has been slowed a bit by it during the Steelers' offseason practices.
Asked Monday if he has seen enough of Jones to create a first impression, coach Mike Tomlin answered succinctly, “No.”
With the Jones and Bell contracts done, the Steelers have two of their nine draft picks unsigned: quarterback Landry Jones, a fourth-rounder, and defensive end Nick Williams, a seventh-round pick.
Bell, the Big Ten rushing leader last season with 1,743 yards, was the 48th overall pick. The Steelers passed up running backs such as Eddie Lacy of Alabama to choose the 6-foot-1, 244-pound Bell, who finished his Michigan State career with 3,346 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Jones and Bell signed two days after the Steelers freed up $5.5 million in cap space from releasing offensive lineman Willie Colon, who has since signed with the Jets.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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