Willie Howard was enthusiastic about joining the Vikings when the team drafted him in April. With the ties between the Vikings and Stanford University very solid, Howard knew he was coming to a good place that had a similar game and practice system and would fit in immediately.
That became official Friday when Howard agreed to a four-year deal with the Vikings. While terms were not disclosed, VU has learned the deal is for slightly more than $2.3 million -- with $1 million of that in the form of a signing bonus.
Howard is expected to get a chance to start immediately and, by signing a four-year deal, his cap number for 2001 will be easy for the team to swallow -- almost as small as a veteran minimum contract of $477,000.
* With Howard signed, only Michael Bennett remains unsigned. However, that is expected to get done today or Sunday. VU has been told that the basic terms of the contract have been agreed upon and both sides are fine-tuning a contract. Under the deal, Bennett will agree to a five-year deal and will receive a signing bonus of between $2 million and $2.5 million.
* In a Bennett-related item, VU learned that the price of fame can cost a player. A backup running back for the University of Wisconsin attempted to get into a college bar this week with a fake college I.D. card. Whose I.D. was it? Bennett's. Unfortunately, as big man on campus, the bouncers recognized Bennett's photo and name on the I.D. and tossed the underage player out of the bar. When he got a little salty about his treatment, a fight broke out and the player was arrested.
* VU attended Randy Moss' press conference to announce the signing of his new contract and most of the questions had the same pissiness that they often have with Moss -- most hinging on whether he believes he's worth the kind of money he's being paid. Moss summed up his feelings on the matter like a veteran when he said his only goal now is, "The Super Bowl. Everything else is accomplished. The only thing I need to put on my resume is a Super Bowl and I'm not going to stop until I get it."
* In what came as surprise to a VU question of Dennis Green, no restrictions have been placed on Moss not to play basketball. Many athletes when they sign big contracts are prohibited from doing things that would be deemed dangerous by management, but no such restriction has been placed on Moss by the Vikings -- further proof that No. 84 continues to run the show.
* The Vikings announced four signings Friday -- re-signing DB Keith Thibodeaux, as well as former University of Minnesota DE Lemanzer Williams, TE Shonn Bell and LB Mark Crawford.
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