BEREA — With the start of training camp just 29 days away, Browns first-round draft picks Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden remain unsigned.
They’re far from alone.
A total of 14 players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft have yet to sign contracts, including the top eight selections.
Alabama running back Richardson was chosen No. 3 overall, while Oklahoma State quarterback Weeden went at No. 22.
“I’m just waiting on No. 1 and No. 2 to sign,” Richardson said Friday while taking part in the NFL Rookie Symposium at Cleveland’s training facility.
“When the big guys get done, I can sign. But I’m not worried about it. My agent (Jimmy Sexton) is handling all that. I’m just focusing on football.”
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III were the first two selections, but both declined to discuss their ongoing negotiations this week.
Under the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement, players selected in the top half of the 32-player first round have their entire rookie contract guaranteed. Picks 17 through 32 will receive between 80-92 percent of guaranteed money.
According to NFL.com, the five players chosen directly before Weeden are averaging 91 percent. His agent is Sean Howard.
“I wish it was done,” Weeden said. “It will get done. We’re working, but it takes two sides to make a deal.”
Making Weeden’s situation trickier is the fact that he played five years of minor league baseball after being a second-round selection by the Yankees in the 2002 MLB Draft.
“I’ve been smart with money,” said Weeden, a right-handed pitcher who went 19-26 with a 5.02 ERA at the Single-A level. “I’m still living off my baseball money — and I didn’t make a whole lot. Fortunately, I’ve got a wife who is really frugal and smart.
“We just bought a home on a golf course (Oak Tree National in Edmond, Okla.), so I’ll be spending a lot of time by the pool until we have to report back here next month.”
Richardson and Weeden both expressed optimism that they will get their deals done before the start of camp. They also said they wouldn’t encourage Luck and Griffin to sign soon, at least not publicly.
“No, I’m not going over there and telling (Luck) that now,” Richardson said, breaking into a chuckle. “I might do it later, when you guys aren’t watching over me, but I’m not doing it now.”
Richardson continues to take the high road when asked about Browns legend Jim Brown’s pre-draft evaluation of his skills.
The Hall of Fame running back called Richardson “ordinary” and encouraged Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert not to select him.
“Jim Brown is an icon and a legend,” Richardson said. “I want to be in the Hall of Fame and I want to be one of the most talked-about guys in all of football. I want my name to always be remembered in a good way and as a good guy. Jim Brown will push me to the limit.”
Weeden said he was unaware of Brown’s comments, but reacted quickly when they were read to him at the AFC “Play 60” youth football clinic in Berea.
“All you’ve got to do is turn on a tape of what Trent did at Alabama,” he said. “That will show you what kind of a player he is. Trent’s got thick skin and he’s going to do some great things for our football team.”
Former Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Cooper, who signed with the Browns as an undrafted rookie, will be staying with Weeden and his wife Melanie for the next several weeks.
The duo combined on 71 pass completions for the Cowboys in 2011, totaling 715 yards and three touchdowns, and will be working out together until training camp opens.
“That’s going to help a lot, especially with my timing, having Josh there with us,” Weeden said. “I’ll have to ask my wife about the accommodations, though.”
Oklahoma State safety Markelle Martin was drafted by the Titans, allowing him to attend the AFC symposium with his school’s former quarterback. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing, Weeden joked.
“I felt like a kid out here today with all the children, even at my age, except for when Markelle was around,” the 28-year-old said. “He’s been making old man jokes about me for five years and keeps on doing it this week.”
Rumor has it
According to two NFL representatives in attendance, the four-day AFC and NFC rookie symposiums are likely to be back in Northeast Ohio in 2013.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, they said the secluded setting at the Bertram Inn in Aurora — coupled with its proximity to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton and the Browns’ training facility in Berea — made the 15th annual event run remarkably smoothly.
An official announcement of the symposium’s return is expected this fall.
Quote of the day
“T.O. (Terrell Owens) and Pacman (Adam Jones), both of those guys were real good speakers about money. Adam Jones said to do background checks on your financial advisor, your agent, your tax preparer. I didn’t think about any of that, but when I get back home, I’m going to get them done.” — Browns running back Trent Richardson on his favorite speakers at the NFL Rookie Symposium.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richardson, Weeden still unsigned