Signing bonuses have grown exponentially since 1965, when the draft was instituted ostensibly to . . . curtail the growth of signing bonuses. From a first-round average of less than $50,000 in the first several years of the draft, the average bonus grew to more than $2 million a few years ago before leveling off and actually declining. Following is a year-by-year breakdown of average first-round signing bonuses, the annual percentage change, the first overall pick in the June regular phase and his bonus, and the player who received the largest bonus (if other from the No. 1 pick), as compiled by BA founding editor Allan Simpson. The signing bonus average for first-round picks from 1965-82 includes the value of college scholarship plans and incentive bonus plans, in addition to the cash bonus paid. From 1983-2004, the amount represents only the cash bonus paid.