Raiders sign top draft pick D.J. Hayden

Raiders sign top draft pick D.J. Hayden
July 25, 2013, 10:15 am
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There are high expectation for D.J. Hayden; defensive backs taken in the top 15 generally start in their rookie season. (OAKLAND RAIDERS)

D.J. Hayden signed his rookie contract with the Raiders Thursday and subsequently reported to training camp. Hayden is in Napa but won't be able to practice until he passed a team-administered physical.

Signing his rookie contract, however, was first on the agenda.  

Hayden's deal is a four-year deal, with a fifth-year team option that must be exercised between his third and fourth professional season. That's standard for first-round draft picks under the NFL rookie wage scale.

Hayden's can earn $10.28 million over the life of the contract, which falls in line with his draft slot at No. 12 overall. Guaranteed money in the contract, however, is reportedly higher than normal. 

According to Pro Football Talk, which cites a source with knowledge of the deal, Hayden received a contract with a structure befitting a higher draft slot. In exchange for offset language -- which allows a team to cut a player without paying the non-guaranteed money on the remainder of his rookie contract -- Hayden will receive guaranteed training-camp bonuses of $379,000 in 2014, $758,000 in 2015 and $1.1 million in 2016. 

Hayden also receives a $5.88 million signing bonus. His base salary will be $405,000 this year, $495,000 in 2014, $585,000 in 2015 and $675,000 in 2016. As with all first-round picks, the team holds a fifth-year option that must be exercised between Hayden's third and fourth season.

Offset language, which the Raiders demanded, is valuable in a situation like this. If the Raiders cut Hayden early in the contract, they can save some money. 

Hayden is not healthy enough to participate team's first training-camp practice on Friday morning. He was placed on the non-football injury list yet remains on the active roster, meaning he can't practice until he passes a team-administered physical. His health issue stems from a surgery to remove painful abdominal scar tissue on May 28, which sidelined him for most of the Raiders offseason program. 
 
Hayden was the player McKenzie wanted all along. He was willing to take Hayden at No. 3 overall -- the Raiders' assigned slot ­-- but he took a risk, traded down and still got his man.

Whether that was a good idea remains in question. Hayden's draft stock was shrouded by health concerns, generated by a Nov. 2012 health scare involving his heart.
 
Hayden was hit in the sternum during a practice at the University of Houston, which ruptured his inferior vena cava, a main blood vessel that brings blood to the lower extremities. Hayden sat out the rest of the college season, made a quick recovery, showed well during the pre-draft process and proved himself worthy of a first-round selection.
 
He was given a clean bill of health prior to draft day, but that didn't last long. Abdominal surgery put his health back in doubt. 

[REWIND: Hayden hospitalized with 'abdominal issue']
 
The Raiders hope he can contribute right away, but that could be difficult after missing significant portions of an offseason crucial to rookie development. Veterans Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins, quality free-agent imports who signed team-friendly one-year deals, impede his path to the starting lineup.
 
If McKenzie's faith in Hayden is appropriately placed, Hayden's ascent will be swift. Defensive backs taken in the top 15 generally start during their rookie season.