The clock is ticking on getting draft picks signed.
The Vikings start their training camp practices on July 25, but they don't have any of their 2008 draft picks signed yet. They aren't alone, however, as numerous teams are without a pick signed and the signings around the league have been relatively slow to date.
With all the delay, it might seem that signing draft picks is a complicated matter, and it might be even more difficult this year with the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the salary cap. While the rookie contracts can get involved, the basics of the paperwork – the number of years, signing bonuses and base salaries – are relatively easy to calculate.
Without a first-round draft pick to sign, many expect the Vikings to have few problems in getting their five draft choices signed before the first training camp practice. First-round picks can be more complicated to sign because everything is bigger – the money involved in bonuses, the incentives and the number of years on the contract.
After the first round, however, contracts are often based on the contract numbers from the previous year's pick at that spot, plus a modest raise, along with the contracts of those who may have already signed this year and were drafted immediately before or after the player in question.
With those parameters in mind, Scout.com's Adam Caplan has gained a pretty good idea what some the contract basics of the Vikings' picks should look like.
In most cases, the base salaries of the draft picks are all the same – the league minimum for each level of experience. For 2008 rookies, that means base salaries of $295,000 in 2008, $385,000 in 2009, $470,000 in 2010, and $555,000 in 2011. Most players drafted after the first round will sign three- or four-year contracts.
Based on previous contract numbers around the 43rd overall pick, safety Tyrell Johnson will get a four-year contract with a signing bonus of about $1.6 million, Caplan estimates, with the base salaries listed above.
Johnson isn't expected to enter training camp as one of the starting safeties – he was behind Darren Sharper and Madieu Williams in organized team activities and minicamp – but he looked solid and the coaching staff could be seeking ways to get him involved on defense.
Because John David Booty is a quarterback, it might be a bit more difficult for the Vikings to negotiate the details of the contract. But the basics of his contract should look something like this, according to Caplan. The fifth-round pick should receive a three- or four-year deal with a signing bonus of roughly $200,000 on a four-year contract or $150,000 on a three-year deal.
Booty will enter training camp as the third or fourth quarterback on the roster, but he is expected to make the 53-man roster and be developed behind starter Tarvaris Jackson and likely backup Gus Frerotte. Booty is considered an ideal candidate for the West Coast Offense, which the Vikings run, as he had familiarity and success with a similar offensive system at USC.
The Vikings' other fifth-round pick, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, also is expected to sign a three- or four-year contract with a bonus of about $176,000 on a four-year deal or roughly $130,000 on a three-year contract, according to Caplan's estimates.
Guion's future with the Vikings isn't as clear. He entered the draft as a junior due to his family's financial situation, and some draft analysts questioned whether he would be better off proving himself with another year at Florida State. He will have to turn in a solid training camp performance to find a roster spot as a backup behind Pro Bowl defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams. Guion will be competing with Ellis Wyms, Kenderick Allen, Fred Evans and undrafted rookie Leger Douzable for a spot.
Offensive lineman John Sullivan, the 21st pick of the sixth round, is also expected to sign a three- or four-year deal, with bonuses around $96,000 on a four-year contract or $71,000 or more on a three-year deal, according to Caplan.
Sullivan is expected to compete for a backup spot at center and guard, and might be an eventual replacement for center Matt Birk if the Pro Bowler and the Vikings can't come to a contract extension before free agency in 2009. Birk is in the final year of his contract but would like to return to the Vikings, his hometown team.
The team's other sixth-round pick, wide receiver Jaymar Johnson, should get a signing bonus of about $90,000 if he signs a four-year contract or approximately $68,000 if he signs a three-year deal, according to Caplan's estimates.
Johnson, the 27th pick of the sixth round and the Vikings' final draft selection, also will have a battle on his hands to make the final 53-man roster. Johnson showed good hands and quickness during the offseason when he wasn't sidelined with a hamstring injury, but the Vikings are deeper at receiver this year than they've been since Brad Childress took over as head coach in 2006. Johnson probably will be competing with undrafted rookies Darius Reynaud, Nate Jones and Daniel Davis, along with first-year player Martin Nance, for a roster spot.
With the Vikings' first training camp practice starting on July 25, time is starting to tick away to finalize the contracts of their five draft picks, but as you begin to see their signings in the coming days, you likely can expect to see contract numbers similar to Caplan's estimates.
Scout.com Anticipates Vikes' Contract Numbers
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