Matt Kalil is dying breed – a top-10 draft pick that isn’t yet signed.
After a Monday that included the signings of Browns running back Trent Richardson and Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne, the Vikings’ top pick is one of only three top-10 picks left unsigned, joining Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon and Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Kalil, picked No. 4 overall, is also the highest drafted player left unsigned after Richardson, the third pick in the draft, was signed by Cleveland. Richardson’s deal is for four years and an estimated $20.4 million, according to various reports.
Vikings players report to training camp on Thursday with their first practice Friday morning. Third-round pick Josh Robinson also remains unsigned by the Vikings.
One of the sticking points in getting high first-round picks signed was “offset language” that would allow teams to recoup some of the money if they released a draft pick before his rookie contract had expired. None of the top three picks have offset language in their contracts, which means it may be harder for the Vikings to incorporate that into Kalil’s contract.
Earlier Monday, the Cowboys reached an agreement with Claiborne, the No. 6 pick in the draft, on a four-year $16.26 million contract that included a $10.3 million signing bonus. His deal includes a club option for a fifth year and, like most of the high picks, doesn’t include any offset language, according to NFL.com.
Also Monday, the Steelers signed first-round guard David DeCastro, the 24th pick in the draft, to a four-year contract with a club option for a fifth season.
Ahead of Kalil and Richardson were two quarterbacks – Andrew Luck (drafted first overall) and Robert Griffin III (selected second) – that signed before this week. Luck signed a four-year contract worth a fully guaranteed $22.1 million with a $14.5 million signing bonus. Griffin’s deal is worth a guaranteed $21.1 million over four years with a $13.8 million signing bonus.
As things currently stand, there are just six first-round draft picks that remained unsigned – Kalil (No. 4), Blackmon (No. 5), Tannehill (No. 8), DT Dontari Poe (No. 11), WR Kendall Wright (No. 20) and QB Brandon Weeden (No. 22).
While the Vikings had two picks unsigned as of early Tuesday morning, 21 teams have all of their draft picks signed, according to NFL reporter Adam Caplan.
The Vikings historically have waited until the days (or even hours) before training camp opens to get their first-round draft pick signed. This year will be no different with Kalil. However, with the days of the absurd rookie contracts gone thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement – Sam Bradford’s guaranteed $50 million received in 2010 is more than the entire contracts of Luck and RG3 combined – it would appear as though the Vikings and Kalil are within a window that can’t be quibbled over too much.
As early as today, expect to get the news that the Vikings and Kalil have agreed on a contract. It will be somewhere between $19-20 million, with a signing bonus of about $12 million and likely have most of it fully guaranteed. Considering his position and the track record of top offensive tackle draft picks, the risk of fully guaranteeing his deal brings much less risk than a wide receiver like Blackmon, who has already had some off-field baggage. The issue for the Vikings could be setting the precedent.
But don’t expect to see a holdout. The two sides can’t be that far apart and, when players begin practicing last this week down in Mankato, expect to see No. 75 on the field and ready to go. It seems inevitable and, with Richardson closing off the final piece of the draft payday puzzle in front of them, the numbers seem to be coming into focus. All that's missing is putting pen to paper and getting Kalil’s deal signed. Don’t expect a repeat of the Bryant McKinnie holdout from a decade ago. This one will get done soon.
SINGLE-GAME TICKETS GOING ON SALE
Single-game tickets and multi-game packages for all Vikings home games go on sale Wednesday. The sale starts at 9 a.m. in person at the Vikings ticket office at Mall of America Field and at 10 a.m. over the phone (1-800-745-3000) or internet (www.ticketmaster.com). Prices range from $39 to $143 for single games. The Green Bay game on Dec. 30 is being packaged with the regular-season opener against Jacksonville.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. 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.