Calling All First Rounders

With just two weeks left until the start of training camp, the Vikings don't have Kenechi Udeze signed, but that shouldn't surprise anyone since almost every team is in the same boat.

In the world of professional sports, the word "collusion" is viewed as a dark and dirty slur that perks up the ears of anyone who hears it. But with less than two weeks before teams start showing up for training camp, one has to wonder if there is a leaguewide effort not to sign first-round draft picks early.

As of today, the only first-rounder who has signed is Texans DL/OLB Jason Babin, the 27th overall pick. Other than that, nobody else has been signed.

While VU has been told the Vikings are confident they will get all their rookies signed before camp opens July 30, one has to wonder how many teams won't get their top guys signed by the time camp opens.

The bizarre thing about the whole situation is that teams, agents and players pretty much know what the parameters of their contract window will be. With about $1 million every slot has a projected money value and that's where teams come from.

For those who remember the Bryant McKinnie fiasco, it was clear early on what would be expected of McKinnie's contract and, even though it stretched into October before he was finally signed, he eventually signed for a figure suspiciously close to the one VU threw out in August.

While no such holdups are expected with Kenechi Udeze, we've been waiting for a flurry of signings. In past years, July 4 has been the benchmark when the signings come fast and furious around the league. As of today, it's like the NFL has lost use of telephones.

That will change soon, but don't be surprised to see several first-round holdouts, which isn't good for the teams involved or the NFL.

* Expect Udeze to sign a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $8-9 million with $4-5 million of that paid in a signing bonus.
* The NFL is moving closer to pay-per-view all the time. It was announced this week that the NFL Network, unavailable in most cable markets, will broadcast 54 preseason games -- the first step to getting the fledgling network as part of the next TV contract for the league.

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