Vikes Get $4 Mil for Rookies

The NFL announced its rookie allocation money Wednesday and the Vikes under the complicated formula have no more than $4.035 million to sign all their rookies.

Most NFL teams have what is termed a capologist -- someone who massages the salary cap so a team like Oakland can somehow be under the $71 million team cap this year but is projected to already be $50 million over for 2003.

The NFL provides little in the way of explanation as to how this cap or the rookie allocation cap (announced Tuesday) actually works -- it's somewhere in between Einstein's theory of relativity and Jack Nicholson's Col. Nathan Jessup saying "You can't handle the truth" in the movie "A Few Good Men."

The Vikings were allocated the 11th highest rookie cap figure, being given $4.035 million to sign their seven rookie choices and undrafted rookie free agents.

The cap isn't exclusive to the regular salary cap, it is worked into a team's salary cap, which means the Vikings being $11 million figure under the salary cap coming into the draft fell to $7 million after the rookie allocation figures were announced.

It is now that the capologists come into play. For example, Houston has already signed QB David Carr, the top pick in this year's draft. He was given a seven-year deal with a $10.6 million signing bonus. His first-year base salary is $1.05 million, which means his rookie cap number is $2.6 million -- a number that must come from the Texans' rookie cap pool.

Confused? You're not alone. Teams have been working these numbers for the last few years and 2002 will be no exception. This is one of the reasons that the top picks are usually the last to sign, as teams leave a specified amount in the rookie cap pool and sign their big-ticket items last -- typically the weekend before training camps actually begin.

* The Vikings and top rookie pick Bryant McKinnie aren't even expected to BEGIN contract negotiations until June and it wouldn't be surprising to see a contract signed until days or even hours before training camp opens in July. The Vikings don't expect to have a holdout situation, but the talk could get interesting as teams delay opening the negotiation process as long as possible.
* In the allocation pool money, the NFL reserved $110 million for rookie salaries. The Texans have the most money to sign rookies ($6.35 million) primarily because of multiple picks after the first round, while Miami, which didn't have a pick until the third round, has the least money to sign rookies ($1.44 million).
* Former Viking Dimitrius Underwood, who is currently under investigation for an alleged rape that took place in an Oakland hotel room while he was playing with Dallas, was released by the Cowboys Wednesday -- likely the end of his short and troubled NFL career.

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