The Ravens are reportedly the only team in the NFL who have yet to wrap up their rookie draft class signings. The lone holdout, Michigan outside linebacker David Ojabo, is the last unsigned rookie selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, with the contract disagreement surrounding Ojabo’s third-year guarantee percentage, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
This is a bit of a new issue as, last year, Ojabo’s draft slot didn’t receive any third-year guarantee, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN. This year has seen a difference of approach in the second round, though. The first five picks of the second round this year have received contracts that fully guaranteed the second and third years of their rookie deals. The first three picks of the second round even had some of the fourth year of their contracts guaranteed, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. After those first five picks, the next ten picks (excluding Ojabo) have the second year of their rookie deals guaranteed with a percentage of their third year guaranteed.
There are two factors of the situation that make it difficult for Ojabo and the Ravens to negotiate. The first is that, while picks 38-47 of the draft all have guaranteed third-year money, there is a huge drop off in the guaranteed amount for the pick before Ojabo and the pick after Ojabo. The player selected just before Ojabo at 44th overall is John Metchie III, who received $800,000 (55.61%) of his third year guaranteed, following the descending trend from the 38th pick, Arnold Ebiketie ($1.36MM), down to the 43rd pick, Wan’Dale Robinson ($876,508). The pick immediately after Ojabo at 46th overall is Joshua Paschal, whose guaranteed third-year money dropped dramatically to $275,000 (22.02%).
The extreme contrast from Metchie to Paschal gives far too much wiggle room for Baltimore and Ojabo to disagree on. Ojabo, likely, will want guaranteed third-year money closer to what Metchie is receiving based on being picked just after him. The Ravens’ argument will point to the fact that he plays the same position as Paschal, and it will probably hinge on the second factor that makes it a difficult negotiation, as well: Ojabo’s injury.
Ojabo was trending towards being a first-round pick for much of the pre-draft process before tearing his Achilles tendon at Michigan’s Pro Day. The severity and timing of the injury make it unlikely that Ojabo will be able to make much of an impact as a rookie. Achilles injuries have affected long-term status less and less in the NFL lately, but it can still be a bargaining chip for Baltimore in terms of how much money they choose to guarantee. Ojabo can also try to flip it by pointing out what his draft stock would’ve been without injury.
At this point, it’s hard to make any predictions, but it’s pretty clear where the separation is coming from. The Ravens no doubt want to come to terms with Ojabo, who will eventually be meeting last year’s first round pick, Odafe Oweh, at the quarterback for years to come. But, after being bitten hard by the injury bug last year, it’s easy to see why Baltimore may be uneasy to guarantee payment to a player currently recovering from a serious injury. It will certainly be interesting to see how the situation is resolved.