Final Picks Could Be Hardest to Sign

While Vikings coach Brad Childress is fashioning many of his procedures after what he experienced in Philadelphia, the Vikings are lucky they aren't copying the Eagles in one respect – rookie holdouts. See why the Eagles are having trouble signing their first-round pick.

The Minnesota Vikings may be fortunate to be running one week behind the Philadelphia Eagles' training camp schedule. Eagles first-round pick, defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, did not report to the team's training camp headquarters Thursday at Lehigh University.

All of their signed rookies were required to report Thursday, but Bunkley remained unsigned. The rookies are scheduled to have their first practice at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Sources say the issues at hand are over the remaining rookie pool money and the length of the contract (five or six years).

The veteran players are scheduled to report on Sunday and full-squad practices are set for Tuesday. Philadelphia and Oakland play in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 6, adding a fifth preseason game to their schedules and allowing them to report to training camp one week earlier than other teams.

The Eagles training camp schedule is similar to the Vikings' schedule, except one week ahead of the Vikings, who are scheduled to have their rookies and selected veterans report next Thursday and start practicing in shorts at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, July 28. The first full-team practice for the Vikings in pads is on Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 8:45 a.m.

The Eagles' situation is relevant to the Vikings for two reasons. First, Vikings coach Brad Childress is fashioning much of his schedule around the way things were done when he was offensive coordinator in Philadelphia.

Secondly, the Vikings still have two rookie draft picks to sign – first-round pick Chad Greenway and second-round selection Tarvaris Jackson. The team has already signed four of their six picks, but the last pick to sign could be forced to take whatever remains of the rookie pool money.

The difficulty in getting that done could be increased with the rookie pool money going up only 5 percent from last year and agents typically seeking a 10 percent increase for their client over the money that slotted pick received in the previous year. The minimum rookie salary also increased $45,000, from $230,000 in 2005 to $275,000 in 2006.

Another interesting piece of the puzzle in Vikings negotiations is that players chosen between the first and 16th picks in the draft can sign contracts for a maximum of six years, but selections 17 through 32 can only sign for a maximum of five years, according to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement from this spring. Greenway, a linebacker, was the 17th selection, meaning the team and Greenway's agent may not have a comparable contract above him (selections 1 through 16) to relate to when discussing parameters of his contract.

Some deals with players selected ahead of him could be six-year contracts that would be voidable if incentives were reached by the player after five years. In Greenway's case, the Vikings may not want to discuss a voidable fifth year, as teams usually prefer to get the maximum number of years on a rookie contract.

The Vikings have already signed two second-round picks (cornerback Cedric Griffin and offensive lineman Ryan Cook), fourth-round pick Ray Edwards and fifth-round pick Greg Blue to four-year deals, the maximum number of years allowed for second- through seventh-round selections.

Only one first-round pick, Houston defensive end Mario Williams, is signed, and Williams agreed to terms with the Texans before the draft in April.

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