CINCINNATI — The Bengals have four of the eight draft picks in the fold after announcing the signings of quarterback AJ McCarron and cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks on Thursday.
McCarron, from the University of Alabama, was the team’s choice in the fifth round, while Westbrooks was taken out of Georgia Southern in the seventh round with the 252nd overall pick in the 256-pick draft.
The Bengals signed sixth-round linebacker Marquis Flowers of Arizona and seventh-round wide receiver James Wright of Louisiana State on Wednesday. Their top four picks — cornerback Darqueze Dennard, running back Jeremy Hill, defensive end Will Clarke and center Russell Bodine — remain unsigned but under the NFL’s new CBA rules, where rookie deals are more standardized and slotted dependent upon where a player is selected, holdouts and contract squabbles are virtually eliminated.
Not surprisingly, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is a proponent of players having contract concerns put to rest before they are fully inundated with their new careers.
Lewis spoke with FoxSportsOhio.com prior to the draft two weeks ago regarding the rules that were instituted with the new CBA in 2011.
"I think it’s really taken the stress off of the player," said Lewis. "I think that the fact that the player has an opportunity to get started right away with his team and not have to go through that stressful situation of that contract negotiation really lets him get off to a good start as a young player."
Those contract distractions weren’t just for first-round picks.
"Sometimes the second- or third-round guy got pinched," said Lewis. "The agent was trying save face and the team was not going to set a precedent, so that guy unfortunately got caught up in it occasionally."