Agent: Process Just Starting

The agent for one Vikings draft pick says the process of getting to the nuts and bolts of contract talks is just getting started. But this agent is in a bit of a unique situation with which clients he handles and which sport he is most involved in.

Steve Kauffman, the agent for Vikings center Ryan Cook, says he and the Vikings have had preliminary talks about Cook's contract. Cook is one of three second-round draft picks for the Vikings in 2005. To date, no Vikings rookies have signed.

The agent for Vikings second-round draft pick Ryan Cook estimates he has talked with the team about a half-dozen times since the draft but said later this week that things are just getting started.

Cook is one of three second-round picks for the Vikings and one of the team's six draft picks, all of whom are currently unsigned.

While Kauffman is more of an agent for basketball players – he has represented Julius Erving and Charles Barkley and has a number of current NBA players – he does have one NFL heavy hitter in Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Both Urlacher and Cook played football for the University of New Mexico and have become friends, but Kauffman said he doesn't actively recruit NFL hopefuls to represent. Instead, Urlacher told his manager not to exclude basketball agents and eventually Kauffman signed on. Three years later, Urlacher was signing a nine-year, $55 million contract with the Bears in 2003.

While Urlacher was a first-round pick, Kauffman said he had the opportunity to sign players rated higher than Cook this year, but he felt Cook was going to be a long-term NFL player.

"I knew that Ryan Cook was going to be an offensive lineman whether it was in the second, third or fourth round if he didn't get hurt for the next 10, 12 or 14 years," Kauffman said. "I'm not going to get on the soapbox of Ryan, but one thing I've learned about athletes if you have to have the skills and talent, but even more than you can estimate in the intangibles is Ryan Cook has every single intangible. He's one of the brightest players I've dealt with – he has character, everything."

Cook was rated as a mid-round or second-day draft value by many of the draft experts in the media, but the Vikings took him with the 51st overall selection – using their second second-round pick to grab the tall lineman.

He is expected to learn the center position behind former Pro Bowl center Matt Birk and backup Jason Whittle.

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