Air Force cornerback Zane Lewis signed a free agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals immediately after the NFL draft Saturday.

Lewis’ agent, Shaun O’Toole, said the Richmond, Va., native had narrowed his options to four teams in the final round of the draft and was the top cornerback on the post-draft board for multiple franchises.

Air Force announced that Lewis signed as a priority free agent. Sources indicated Lewis’ signing bonus would fall among the top end given to undrafted free agents, a scale that generally ranges from $1,000 to $15,000 as teams navigate within a limit of around $100,000 to distribute to all undrafted players. O’Toole would not confirm a report that Lewis signed for $20,000.

Lewis is the only Air Force senior to apply for deferred service time through a new policy adopted by the Department of Defense in November. If approved, he'll be able to pursue a football career prior to beginning his five-year military commitment.

A stipulation in the policy requires service athletes to have a viable professional opportunity. Lewis now has the contract to offer as evidence.

Navy’s Malcolm Perry was the lone service academy player taken in the draft. Miami drafted him as a receiver in the seventh round. Army had a pair of players quickly picked up after the draft as cornerback Elijah Riley went to Philadelphia and Jacksonville signed fullback Connor Slomka.

A two-year starter for Air Force, Lewis drew attention from NFL scouts after running a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the Falcons' pro day in early March. He ranked third in the Mountain West with 15 pass breakups in 2019 as he helped Air Force to an 11-2 record and a No. 22 ranking in the final Associated Press poll.

Arizona has recent history with Air Force graduates, as Ryan Watson attended rookie minicamp with the team in 2017 during a policy shift that coincided with the draft. Players from that class initially had a green light to turn pro, but a shift reenacted a mandatory two years of active duty. Nobody from Watson's graduating class, a group that included pro prospects Jalen Robinette, Weston Steelhammer and Jacob Onyechi, cracked an NFL roster after serving two years.

Load comments