The 49ers fired the first shot across the bow last week when they re-signed linebacker Patrick Willis to a five-year, $50 million extension and players like Peterson, Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and Cleveland offensive tackle Joe Thomas are all in line for a big payday as they have lived up to their rookie contracts above and beyond expectations.
The Class of 2007 has been marked by many disappointments. First overall pick JaMarcus Russell was released by the Raiders earlier this month, fourth overall pick Gaines Adams died in January, ninth overall pick Ted Ginn Jr. was traded by Miami to Oakland, 13th overall pick Adam Carriker was traded by the Rams to the Patriots, 22nd overall pick Brady Quinn was traded by the Browns to the Broncos and 12th overall pick Marshawn Lynch is on the trading block. That, combined with first-round disappointments DE Jamaal Anderson (No. 8, Atlanta), DT Amobi Okoye (No. 10, Houston), DT Justin Harrell (No. 16, Green Bay) and DE Jarvis Moss (No. 17, Denver), has left those who have excelled from the top of the 2007 draft class at even more of a premium for their team's to re-sign.
Rice, a second-round pick who is scheduled to make only $550,000 in base salary this year, has a contract that expires after the 2010 season.
Peterson, on the other hand, is much more well-compensated as the No. 7 overall pick and his contract runs through 2012, so that is not as pressing of an issue. He could make as much as $20 million over the final three years if he continues to hit escalators in his contract.
The Vikings aren't known as a team that extends contracts until they get into the final year of their current deals, but that time is coming for Rice. Peterson may be put on hold for another year or even two.
The 49ers have started the process going. Don't be surprised if at least a couple of the big names from the 2007 draft start the process of negotiating long-term extensions themselves in the coming weeks and months.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.