Moore Signing Significant

The signing of fourth-round rookie Mewelde Moore Tuesday sent a ripple through the local and national media, something many of us hope will be a sign of changes to come.

Mewelde Moore was the 119th player selected in the NFL draft last month, but he became a No. 1 pick Tuesday -- becoming the first Vikings rookie to sign a contract and one of the first rookies taken in the 2004 draft to agree to terms with his team.

This was a refreshing change from how things have gone with the Vikings in recent years. Typically, no rookies have been signed before the Fourth of July and invariably the top picks aren't signed until the days and hours leading up to the opening of training camp.

But the Moore signing sent some mixed signals. Some see the signing as an indication that the Vikings aren't going to hold the old rules of waiting as long as possible before handing out signing bonuses. If that's the case, VU would welcome getting players into the offseason workout program as soon as possible.

The other school of thought is that the team may have more than just special teams duties planned for Moore and, the sooner he could get signed and brought into the team's offseason workout program, the better his chances of catching on to the system and being involved in the offense as a rookie -- much like 2003 fourth-rounder Onterrio Smith was despite not signing until training camp opened.

Moore, a multifaceted player who became just the second player in Division I-A history to rush for 4,000 yards and have 2,000 yards receiving, is now eligible to work out at the Vikings' Winter Park training facility, meet his new teammates and be quantum leaps ahead of the other rookies when they arrive at training camp.

Whether this is a trend or a one-time occurance, many around the Vikings would like to see the team break from the unwritten rules that say you wait as long as possible to sign your rookies. The earlier all the players get into the offseason program, the better the Vikings' chances for success in 2004, because, while Moore won't be an immediate starter, at least two or three others have that potential immediately and every additional day of work they can get before the games start counting for real would be a blessing.

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