It's mostly a formality these days, but the Detroit Lions have signed rookie tight end Sam LaPorta.
As the offseason program wraps up and they go their separate ways for a few weeks, the Detroit Lions have signed most of their 2023 draft picks. Most being the key word. On Thursday, the team announced it has signed second-round tight end Sam LaPorta.
Terms of the deal were not announced. But after the Las Vegas Raiders signed their rookie tight end Michael Mayer, the No. 35 overall pick in April's draft (LaPorta went No. 34), it became easy to think LaPorta would be signed to his rookie contract ASAP. Financial slots for draft picks make rookie holdouts a thing of an ever-more distant past.
The slotted contract projection for LaPorta as pick No. 34, via Spotrac, is a four-year, $9,465,990 deal with a $3,884,356 signing bonus and a $1,721,089 million cap hit for 2023.
Update: More details of LaPorta's deal are out, with what appears to be a significant chunk of his fourth year guaranteed.
Sam LaPorta now all systems go to become the Lions' No. 1 tight end
LaPorta was one of the standouts from Lions OTAs. Upon being drafted he immediately became the most-talented tight end on the roster, and the coaching staff has thrown him right into the fire to give him the opportunity to be the No. 1 guy.
Via Lions.com after the draft, NFL Films producer Greg Cosell sees LaPorta as a potential immediate contributor.
""(LaPorta) has the look and feel of a 10-year NFL TE with his compact route running and his ability to work the middle of the field effectively, including the play speed to run the vertical seam and the deep corner and go routes.""- Greg Cosell
LaPorta of course closely follows another Iowa tight end to the Lions, after T.J. Hockenson was traded last season. The Hawkeyes have built a pipeline of NFL tight ends, including George Kittle and Noah Fant as well as Hockenson.
Now officially signed to his rookie deal, LaPorta will be able to officially fully assert himself as the Lions' No. 1 tight end when training camp starts next month. Jahmyr Gibbs and Brian Branch are now the only Lions' 2023 draft picks who haven't signed.