Rookie Numbers Add Up … Sometimes

The Vikings have three of their eight draft picks signed, and the structure of their contracts falls right in line with those signed around them. Find out those details, plus get a glimpse at the top 10 teams in the amount of rookie-pool money allocated to sign their draft picks and how the Vikings stack up next to them. Warning: This is a numbers-intensive read.

Some numbers involving the NFL draft are too convoluted to even try to make sense of them. Others are easy to see.

Case in point with the Vikings involves the Vikings' rookie pool numbers and the picks they've already signed. On that first number, the team was allotted $4.84 million by the NFL to sign their eight draft picks.

The Vikings entered free agency in March with just over $30 million in salary-cap space and now are reportedly about $20 million under the cap, although other estimates have them north of that number by a few million and leading the league in cap space.

To date, the Vikings have signed three of their picks, and given the landscape of the draft picks around them, it's easy to see how they came to terms on the contract numbers with their seventh-round picks, quarterback Tyler Thigpen and wide receiver Chandler Williams, and sixth-round pick linebacker Rufus Alexander.

All three of them signed four-year contracts, standard lengths for rookies selected after the first round of the draft. In most cases, rookies sign for minimum base salaries with their bonus money tied to their overall draft number.

All three signed for minimum base salaries of $285,000 in 2007; $370,000 in 2008; $460,000 in 2009; and $550,000 in 2010. Alexander's signing bonus as the second pick in the sixth round was $113,000, according to a league source. The first pick in the sixth round, Oren O'Neal, received a signing bonus of $116,000, and the selection immediately after Alexander – Jacob Bender of the New York Jets – received $3,000 less than Alexander, meaning that each successive pick that goes off the board in that area of the draft is worth about $3,000.

Alexander's bonus was a 23 percent increase over the bonus received by Mike Haas, who was the second pick in the sixth round of the 2006 draft.

In the early stages of the seventh round, every pick that goes by is worth about $1,000 in bonus money, according to what Thigpen and the pick in front of him received. Thigpen and Washington's Tyler Ecker each received minimum base salaries on a four-year deal, with Ecker receiving a $58,000 bonus and Thigpen getting a $57,000 bonus. Ecker was the sixth pick in the seventh round while Thigpen was the seventh pick in the final round.

The Vikings' final draft pick, Williams, who was drafted 23rd in the seventh round, received the same base salaries for a four-year contract as the team's other two draft picks that were signed, but Williams' bonus was $46,000.

So while it is easy to see roughly how much money is at stake with each pick that goes off the board in the sixth and seventh rounds, it isn't as easy to comprehend how the NFL's rookie allocation for each team is figured.

The Vikings have the 10th-most money allocated to them against the 2007 cap to sign their draft picks. They still have to sign running back Adrian Peterson, wide receiver Sidney Rice, cornerback Marcus McCauley, defensive end Brian Robison, and wide receiver Aundrae Allison, but the Vikings typically don't start signing most of their picks until after the Fourth of July, and this year they had three signed before then. Last year, linebacker Chad Greenway, the team's first-round pick, wasn't signed until July 27.

The Oakland Raiders, who had the first pick in the draft, lead the rookie allocation with $6.92 million allotted to sign their picks. Detroit, which had the second pick, was allocated the fourth-most money by the league ($5.83 million), followed by Cleveland, which was allowed $5.67 million to sign their picks, including the third overall selection in Joe Thomas and the 22nd overall selection in Brady Quinn. Coming in at No. 9 in allocated rookie-pool money is Green Bay, which had the 16th overall pick and 10 other draft picks to sign.

While the Vikings round out the top-10 with $4.84 million to sign their eight picks, only two other teams in the top 10 have an equal of fewer amount of players to sign. Detroit has eight draft picks, but four of them were in the first two rounds, which could make their task of getting them signed before training camp a difficult one. Cleveland had seven picks in the 2007 draft, but they had two first-rounders and a second-rounder. Six of the top-10 teams in the rookie pool have 10 or more draft picks to sign.

Here are the top 10 teams for the rookie pool, according to Scout.com:

1. Oakland $6.92 million
2. Atlanta $6.17 million
3. Tampa Bay $6.10 million
4. Detroit $5.83 million
5. Cleveland $5.67 million
6. San Francisco $5.42 million
7. Miami $5.37 million
8. Jacksonville $4.92 million
9. Green Bay $4.91 million
10. Minnesota $4.84 million
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