Let the Signings Begin

In what has become something of a sad tradition in the NFL, the signing of draft picks has become a cat and mouse game, which officially begins with the passing of the 4th of July weekend.

A year ago, Mewelde Moore offered a breath of fresh air for Vikings fans. Moore, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL draft, wanted to get a contract signed and be done with it. He signed on within weeks of the draft and was working out at Winter Park long before the team headed to Mankato for training camp.

The same, unfortunately, hasn't been the case for most rookies. Increasingly, teams wait until almost the last minute to get rookies signed to contracts -- putting off paying the monster signing bonuses that accompany most high draft choices.

The Vikings have been no exception. While not having a repeat of the debacle that all but ruined the rookie season of OT Bryant McKinnie, the Vikings, like most teams, have engineered a process in which they start signing their late-round draft choices first and wait until days or even hours before the official opening of training camp to get contracts finalized.

The conclusion of the Independence Day weekend has typically started the trickle of signings. Some teams have made it a priority to get their rookies signed, while most wait for the players around their choices to sign -- even though most of the money for those picks has been slotted and pre-determined.

While the Vikings are confident that, when training camp opens, they will have all their players signed and in camp, the team has played along with this leaguewide game of Russian roulette. Hopefully, the Vikings won't be one of the teams with the gun in hand when the bullet goes into the chamber.

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