Lions win one thing: getting rookies signed

The Lions have all their rookies signed before the Vikings have any, setting an example of how to "negotiate" quickly without much wiggle room under the new Collective Bargaining agreement.

On Friday, the Detroit Lions signed Ziggy Ansah to a five-year deal. What made that significant is that he was the last of the nine Detroit draft picks to be signed – and technically, we're not even in mid-May.

As a franchise, the Lions don't do a lot of things right. They hired Matt Millen – 'nuff said. But, they may be more ahead of the curve in the latest NFL trend than most. Who would have thought other teams would consider copying a Detroit blueprint? But, in this case, there may be credence.

The Vikings have historically been a franchise that pushes back the signing of rookies until the 11th hour (as in 11:59 for the big-money payouts). However, with the new playing field provided for rookie signings – teams, players and agents know the parameters of their slotting in the pay system – what is the risk of signing players early?

About the only justifiable reason for not signing rookies to contracts early if the off chance an injury that could happen while the player is under contract. It used to be a real concern. Now? Not so much. Even if a player is injured, a contract is supposed to be executed in good faith.

Under the rules of new Collective Bargaining Agreement, there is little to no contact allowed up to training camp. But for those rookies who want to get acclimated to their new teams and get a jump-start on their NFL careers, it is unfathomable why more teams … wait for it … don't follow the Detroit blueprint and get them signed.

Once a rookie is signed, if he is what is known as a "gym rat," he can be at the team facility working out and honing his craft from the time his college is out of session until the team kicks him out a couple of weeks before training camp.

The Lions aren't a role model for any organization. They historically implode – the only question is whether it happens in September, October, November, December or, in very rare occasion, January. It's not a matter of if it's going to happen, it's a matter of when.

However, in this instance, the Lions are running ahead of the curve. Other organizations should take note. It was either Friedrich Nietzsche or Larry the Cable Guy who said, "Git 'r' Dun!" The Lions, of all teams, found a way to do just that. Other teams should learn to follow suit.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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