According to two agents representing picks in this year's draft, you can expect more holdouts and missed days of training camp this year than in the past.
The rookie pool -- which is the amount of monies teams are allowed to pay to their pool of draft picks -- has stayed at roughly the same level as it was last year. Still, the players and the agents will be seeking the normal 10% increase from the contracts negotiated by the players picked in the same slot last year.
Teams, on the other hand, will not be willing to give the normal yearly "bump" in pay, which the agents say will lead to longer and more bitter holdouts.
"This is setting up to be a very interesting negotiating period," one agent, who asked that he not be identified, told The Insiders.
"Sure, there is the same amount of money [in the rookie pool] as last year, but the players will want that increase. It's our job to get it for them, and it's the club's job to get [the draft picks] as cheap as possible... I'd be very surprised if there weren't more than a few all-out bloodbaths out there before it's all said and done."
According to the agents, teams will be able to give that increase, but will have to come up with creative contract structures in order to achieve it and avoid the messy "h-word".
The wide receiver position is garnering an extensive amount of attention in Winter Park. The signing of veteran Sean Dawkins is more of an insurance policy, rather than that of a serious contributor The Insiders has learned.
"Dawkins has been a player that has been hot or cold. If you look at him, if he is involved in the offense, he will put up some numbers," the source said. "Our expectations are that he'll come in here, work and earn a roster spot."
It is expected that two high-profile wide receivers will be released on June 1. Keenan McCardell from Jacksonville and Derrick Alexander from Kansas City will be released and the Vikings have been evaluating both players, The Insiders has learned.
Desperately looking for a veteran wide receiver, with gas left in his tank, McCardell is the favorite of most teams that are anxiously awaiting the June 1 date, according to an NFC West division player personnel assistant.
"McCardell would be a great acquisition for Minnesota. He really would be a nice, solid fit in their offense," the player personnel assistant said. "He is a class act that still plays the game at a very high level. There is no doubt that Minnesota is looking and McCardell would provide them a definite player at the position, without the baggage of receivers gone by there."......
Talking with a scout from the NFC North division, the Vikings are a team that could be very interesting in the 2002 season. Head coach is getting high marks, but serious questions remain about the team on the defensive side of the ball.
"The Vikings have added some nice players, but the players they have lost will really hurt them defensively. The safety positions are extremely questionable, losing Thomas and Griffith look to be large, unfilled holes," the scout said. "Unless something dramatically changes, or we all get the shock of our lives, Minnesota will really struggle."
"They look solid at cornerback, but the linebackers, safeties, and defensive linemen will really need to step up or they will be in for a very long season."......
The Vikings will continue their quest for help via free agency as they will entertain several players next week, including safety Victor Green.
Green, released by the Jets earlier this offseason, rejected a multi-year contract offer from the Patriots, due mainly to the size of the signing bonus. The nine-year veteran has held several conversations with Patriots officials, including head coach Bill Belichick, and feels that New England is the perfect spot for him, provided the financial specifics can be worked out.
Still, Green is keeping an open mind heading into his visit to Minnesota, especially considering the low-ball offer given to him by New England.
The 5-11, 210-pound Green has played in 139 games -- including 108 starts -- during his nine years in the league, and has 24 career interceptions. In each of the past two seasons, Green has returned an interception for a touchdown.
The Redskins are toying with the idea of using linebacker LaVar Arrington as a rush end in certain passing situations. New defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis feels that the previous defensive regime did not utilize Arrington's ability to wreak havoc in the offensive backfield often enough, which he hopes to change this season......
After tearing his Achilles tendon in 2000, cornerback Bryant Westbrook was, for all intents and purposes, a non-factor for the Lions the past two seasons. Now, after signing a free-agent deal with the Cowboys earlier this offseason, the corner appears to be nearly 100% recovered from the injury and has led Dallas to believe that they may have gotten the steal of free agency......
The expected glut on the post-June 1 wide receiver market will have one less member as the Bears have reached an agreement on a restructured contract with Marcus Robinson. The organization had made quite a few not-so-subtle hints that the veteran receiver, coming off back-to-back injury-plagued seasons, would have been a cap casualty if an agreement were not reached. Still, such quality WRs such as Keenan McCardell, Derrick Alexander and Antonio Freeman, in addition to the already-on-the-market tandem of Cris Carter and Michael Westbrook, will make this group very deep and, teams hope, very cheap......
LINE OF THE DAY
"If the Bengals were a prospective prom date, the girl would need that night to wash her hair." -- From Tim Sullivan of the Cincinnati Enquirer, on the Bengals' inability to sign a top-flight quarterback the past few seasons.