The Vikings signed fourth-round draft pick Mewelde Moore to a four-year contract last week, which is far ahead of the pace the team is used to. However, that doesn't mean the signings will fall like dominoes in the coming weeks.
In recent years, the Vikings haven't been able to reach agreements with most of their draft picks until after the Fourth of July. The process got off to an early start this year with the Moore signing, but it is mostly up to the agents of the remaining picks. The Vikings are willing to keep forging ahead with signings, but often the agents are hesitant to sign their client until other players near that selection have set the market value.
This year, however, Moore started the party early.
"We didn't have a philosophy of doing these guys at the last minute (in the past). That's the league market, and typically the agents. I'd like to get them done as early as possible," said vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski, who said he signed a first-round draft pick in the first week of June when he was involved in negotiating contracts for the Miami Dolphins in the late 1990s. "There is always the reservation (from players or agents) being the first one to step out. We try and get them all done if we can.
"I don't know that there will be much more action, sometimes they just kind of pop. We like to get them done as soon as possible."
There isn't a lot wiggle room in signing rookie draft picks. The NFL hands down the total amount of money each team is allowed to spend on their rookies — called a rookie allocation pool — depending on how many draft picks each team had and where those selections occurred.
This year, the Vikings were allotted $3,538,788, ranking 20th among the league's 32 teams. That amount will easily fit into the Vikings' remaining cap space, reportedly at $13.5 million. The average rookie allocation this year was about $3.77 million per team.
But even though the league allows a set amount for each team — the San Diego Chargers were highest with just over $6 million — there are other factors that affect how much a team dishes out to its draft picks.
In signing rookies, the general outline is to look at last year's selection in that spot and give a modest increase. Sounds easy in an ideal world, but when money is involved …
"It's never that easy because the agents are always wanting a bigger percentage," Brzezinski said. "If it were that simple you wouldn't even have to negotiate."
What's left to negotiate is language for injury settlement scenarios, workout money, incentives and escalators, and the signing bonus — "which is a critical part of the contract," Brzezinski said.
Brzezinski said he doesn't believe another draftee signing is imminent, but the Vikings have been in contact with each of the agents for their six picks that remain unsigned. But he also pointed out that "a lot of times it just takes a couple of phone calls, especially on these lower round picks. There is a chance that we'll get some more done, but it's also likely that they'll just sit there until after the Fourth of July."
Although that has been the date that the Vikings and the agents have started to come to terms on a contract, this year they found a more — or Moore — willing player on the other side of the bargaining table.
And the Vikings are hoping to find some of their other picks that accommodating.
Rookie Signing Update
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