The trend in the NFL over recent years has been for teams to initiate serious talks with their high-round draft picks in middle to late June, with the somewhat misguided hope that they can get a deal completed before the start of training camp in the middle or end of July.
The Vikings, of course, are no different as, according to Mark Heligman of SFX Sports, talks between the club and first-round pick Bryant McKinnie will not begin until at least the beginning of next month. Even then, Heligman says, the talks will be merely preliminary in nature.
"It will be at least another month before we even begin contract talks. At least another month," Heligman told The Insiders. "That's not out of the ordinary, either. That's just the way the system works these days."
Heligman cited the Jaguars as one of the few teams that like to get their draft picks, even their top ones, signed early.
Additionally, and a point not cited by Heligman but offered by another anonymous agent, is the fact that the player representatives are cautious in being the first out of the box in signing early-round deals.
The agent does not want to sign a "bad deal," which other agents can -- and will -- use against him in recruiting clients. Instead, most agents like others to set the financial bar in the hopes of getting the fair market value for their player.
SFX represented last year's fourth-overall pick, Justin Smith, who held out of camps for 50 days before finally reaching an agreement with the Bengals. Heligman insists that was a different organization and a different set of circumstances, and that the firm expects no complications in getting McKinnie in camp on time......
Two league sources have confirmed a Viking Update report from yesterday that new special teams coach Jay Hayes, fired by the Steelers following the 2001 season, received a raw deal from Pittsburgh, due mainly to the amount of time devoted to special teams. "Jay is a quality special teams guy, and Pittsburgh made a huge mistake in letting him go," one source told The Insiders. "When you're given so little time to work with your unit, it's bound to have an effect on the field. It turns out that cost [Hayes] his job."
The Steelers' loss, though, is the Vikings' gain as both sources agreed that Hayes' enthusiasm and tenacious attitude will be infectious to the entire unit, and, according to one source, "will make those guys want to run through and bust down a wall for the guy."......
Free-agent guard Rich Tylski, who is scheduled visit Winter Park at some point next week, will be in San Diego today to meet with the Chargers. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer spoke with Tylski over the phone last week and arranged the visit. According to a source close to Tylski, the offensive lineman is very intrigued by the situation in San Diego, and there is a chance that his agent, Derrick Fox, will toss some preliminary contract numbers at the organization as early as today......
The Vikings had a more-than-passing interest in free agent-quarterback Shane Matthews -- released last week by the Bears -- but were never able to get the veteran in for a visit and make a serious contract run. Matthews had his heart set on reuniting with Steve Spurrier in Washington, and Coach Visor reciprocated that interest by inking the former Florida Gator to a one-year contract.