New England Sets the Udeze Bar

The New England Patriots may have sped up the process of the Vikings signing Kenechi Udeze -- or stopped it dead in its tracks.

In the NFL, there is a term called slotting when it comes to dealing with rookie contracts. Slotting uses two factors -- the players taken around a player at a specific position and how much a player from the same draft slot was paid the previous year.

The Patriots may have shuffled the deck badly for the Vikings today. The team, which took DT Vince Wilfork with the 21st pick in the 2004 draft have agreed to a six-year, $18 million contract that includes $5.5 million in bonuses -- $3 million this year and a $2.5 million option for next year.

It would be expected that the Vikings would try to lock up a similar deal with Kenechi Udeze -- taken one pick in front of Wilfork. But that's where the slotting issue comes in. Last year the No. 21 pick was center Jeff Faine, who signed a seven-year deal for $7 million. The jump from that to what the Pats are willing to pay Wilfork could have a huge ripple effect on several other teams -- perhaps the Patriots' hidden intentions.

If the Vikings aren't willing to give Udeze a similar contract or more bonus money for fewer years, the New England signing could throw a wrench in the works for several teams, including the Vikes.

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