The reason? Having unsigned draftees on the roster gives you flexibility to carry more players on your team through the spring, and the Patriots have valued that flexibility in the past. The rubber hits the road come training camp, when the rookies have to be signed to participate, but for now those unsigned picks can take part in workouts.
The Larsen deal leaves the Patriots with 77 players signed. The roster limit, right now, is 80. The team has 88 players on the team. So the Patriots have three spots left … meaning they can sign a combination of that many draft picks or free agents without having to cut anyone.
Could more rookie deals be coming? Sure, if the team is comfortable enough with where they are to hand over that flexibility, the team could sign another few picks. But it’s also worth noting that after June 1, the team can sign veteran free agents without having it work into the formula for compensatory draft picks, so if there’s someone they’re eying, they could wait until after that date to pull the trigger.
Anyway, according to this pretty cool database at Mac’s Football Blog, there are nine draft picks league-wide signed. Chicago’s Corey Wootton is the only fourth-rounder under contract, the Bears’ Joshua Moore is the only fifth-rounder (it’s Chicago’s MO, plus they only had five picks total) inked, with the rest being sixth- and seventh-rounders.
Could more be coming? Maybe. Maybe not. Agent Nate Haber Tweeted earlier today, “It’s
amazing how fast these late rd rookies have signed. Think teams are
preparing for the worst with 1st/2nd rd holdouts bc of the lockout.“
Lots of truth in that. And it’s also worth noting because Haber just so happens to one of the agents at PlayersRep … which happens to represent Patriots first-round pick Devin McCourty.