Only Two Left to Sign?

With more signings coming all the time, the Vikings are setting their sights on getting Bryant McKinnie under contract. The question now is will it happen before training camp opens Friday?

Over the weekend, the Vikings signed CB Brian Williams to a three-year $1.23 million contract with a $327,000 signing bonus. In addition, VU has been told that the numbers of a contract with third-round pick Willie Offord have been agreed to and a contract could be signed as soon as today.

However, that still leaves two picks to be signed. While Raonall Smith is fully expected to be signed by Friday, there are some very mixed signals coming out about getting Bryant McKinnie in camp and Mike Tice and McKinnie are apparently being caught in the middle.

VU has been told in no uncertain terms that McKinnie wants to be in camp, Tice wants him in as badly as any coach could want a player, but there is volleying going on between Vikings top management and the representatives of McKinnie that could make negotiations drag on or even stall.

The biggest problem is that only a handful of first-round picks have signed and, if the contracts of the players around McKinnie are considerably higher than those paid for comparable slots in the 2001 draft, the negotiations could get ugly.

McKinnie's agents have a history of waiting until players around their clients sign to get a better handle on the dollar amount of their clients' contracts. The Vikings, of course, are looking for a deal that would be comparable to what the seventh overall pick got in 2001.

Don't be surprised if talks continue up to and possibly even after training camp begins. While both sides have indicated mixed signals on the chance of getting a deal done in time, expect round-the-clock negotiations Thursday and Friday and that McKinnie will be on the field by the end of the weekend. Both sides may have to compromise, but the Vikings need McKinnie and he needs the time to improve his technique to be a starter at the pro level.

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