Rookie Signings Begin This Week

The 2002 season "officially" begins today, as the Vikings try to get the rookie signing frenzy underway.

Some Vikings fans have been expressing a concern about the Vikings being one of the only teams in the NFL without any of their rookie draft picks signed, but that shouldn't be a worry nor should that remain the same for much longer.

VU has been told that the Vikings planned all along to wait until after this weekend to begin signing their rookies and that, once July 8 rolled around, things would change -- in a hurry.

Translation? Expect signing to begin this week, perhaps a late-round signing or two as early as today or tomorrow and for sure by the end of the week.

The big question remains around OT Bryant McKinnie. The Vikings haven't had to sign a draft pick this high since 1985 when they drafted Chris Doleman and have never been forced to part with the massive rookie signing bonus money they will this year.

Complicating the issue is that McKinnie's lead agent, Jim Steiner, hasn't been shy about tough negotiations. Last year, Steiner represented high first-round pick DE Justin Smith, who held out all of training camp before signing.

Fortunately, the Vikings, McKinnie and his agents are all aware of the contract needs for a rookie from the No. 6 draft slot and are prepared to make a deal get done before camp opens. But, while McKinnie will likely be an 11th hour signing, the picks will start heading into Winter Park soon and, as always, the Vikings are supremely confident everyone will be signed and sealed by the opening of training camp July 26.

* Tickets for the two Vikings practices with Kansas City and the two team passing scrimmages go on sale at 10 a.m. today. Tickets are $7 for each of the four events and are at the University of Minnesota-Mankato box office or throught Ticketmaster.
* The Vikings and the University of Minnesota have begun discussions on the operation of a new stadium facility. As part of the process to have a plan ready for Legislators next session, the Vikings and university have agreed to work out details on running the stadium to clear another potential hurdle.

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