The Vikings on Wednesday checked into their dorm away from home for the next three weeks as they prepare for their first training camp meetings Thursday. With a flurry of five signings on Tuesday and Wednesday, the team got all of their draft picks under contract and ready for the long haul.
All five of the draft picks signed four-year contracts with base salaries of $295,000 this year, $385,000 next year, $470,000 in 2010 and $550,000 in 2011. Those are the league-minimum salaries for their respective years for 2008 rookies.
Safety Tyrell Johnson, the team's top pick who was drafted in the second round, received a signing bonus of about $1.47 million with an incentive of $600,000 if he plays 35 percent of the defensive snaps this year or 45 percent next year. Johnson is expected to back up starting safeties Darren Sharper and Madieu Williams, but he likely would be the first safety off the bench if either of the starters was hurt and could be used to defend some three-receiver sets as well.
Johnson said it was good to get his contract signed before the start of training camp.
"It was important. It's the most important thing, to come down here and go through training camp with my team, grunt and grind just like they have to grunt and grind, do all the same things," said Johnson, who had been at the Vikings' Winter Park facility for more than a week preparing for training camp after about a week at home.
Johnson, an Arkansas State alumnus, said Wednesday that he wasn't nervous about his first training camp.
"I wouldn't say nerves, just excitement. I'm just ready to get rolling," he said. "It's the anticipation that kills you, because you don't know what's ahead of you. But I know that football is football. I've been through tough times before, and I'm going to make it out just like I did before."
Quarterback John David Booty indicated that the start of training camp could be a challenge because teams reclaim their playbooks between the end of the offseason program and the start of training camp, a move that is presumptively made in case a player is released between June and the start of training camp.
"I lose a bit. It's tough because you get done with OTAs (organized team activities) and minicamps and they take most of the information back from you, so then you almost go another month without seeing the offense at all," said Booty, the former USC signal-caller who was the Vikings' first of two fifth-round picks and received a $206,000 signing bonus. "You try to remember it the best you can and review the little notes you were able to take home with you, but now it's an official camp, and you get back in here and try to figure it out as quick as you can."
Defensive tackle Letroy Guion, the team's second pick of the fifth round, received a signing bonus just short of $177,000. Guion left Florida State after his junior season to help support his family and will have a challenge to make the 53-man roster as a backup to Pat Williams and Kevin Williams. The Vikings signed veterans Ellis Wyms and Kenderick Allen to compete at that position, along with the returning Fred Evans.
Center John Sullivan, a Notre Dame alum and the first of two sixth-round picks, got a $96,000 signing bonus with his four-year contract. Sullivan is expected to learn behind Pro Bowl center Matt Birk this season. Birk is in the final year of his contract.
The Vikings' final draft pick, sixth-round wide receiver Jaymar Johnson received a signing bonus just over $90,000. He will compete for a roster spot in a deep receiving corps. The team would appear to have their top four spots accounted for, with Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, Bobby Wade and Aundrae Allison returning. Robert Ferguson is also a respected veteran in a relatively young receiver group and a good locker room presence that could occupy the fifth receiver spot. That leaves Johnson to compete with a handful of rookie and first-year players for what might amount to one open roster position if the coaches decide to keep six receivers.
The contract challenge may be over for the Vikings' five draft picks, but the roster battles are about to commence.
Rookies Ready for the Unknown
Viking Update Top Stories
Key matchup: Former teammates face offOnly time will tell who got the better of the Sam Bradford trade to the Minnesota Vikings, but he and Carson Wentz will face each other Sunday after the trade that surprised them…
Viking Update7:06 AM
Vikings podcast: Spielman, Bradford and moreThe Minnesota Vikings are showing the fruits of some solid roster building and coaching. Their record, their stats and their depth prove it, as a talk with Rick Spielman showed.
Viking Update6:17 AM
Vikings rush offense needs to improveThe Minnesota Vikings are the lone unbeaten team in the NFL, yet they are failing at one of the typical telltale signs of a winning team - being able to control the clock with a…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 8:23 PM
Vikings turned 2010 postponement into partyThe 2010 Minnesota Vikings suffered through a decade's worth of twists and turns - almost all of them bad. The one exception? A really long weekend in Philadelphia, where it isn't…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 4:55 PM