Undrafted rookies further disadvantaged

Former UDFA Husain Abdullah (Miles Kennedy/AP)

One of the fallouts of having no labor agreement in place is that undrafted rookies won't be signed immediately after the draft. And with minicamps and offseason activities being wiped out or delayed, their time to impress during practices will be shortened once they are signed. Last year, the Vikings had 16 undrafted players on their roster.

Every player likes to hear his name called on draft weekend, right? For the first 200 or so picks, that would be true, but for those who get selected late in the seventh round, the same isn't necessarily true.

In a typical year, the scene around Winter Park (and the other 31 team facilities) is a buzz of complimentary schmoozing of players the team didn't think enough of to take during the course of the draft. Once Mr. Irrelevant is announced, teams have always been open to negotiate with undrafted players to sign them to free-agent contracts. Like most everything else in the NFL the last two months, that has changed.

Under league rules, teams aren't going to be able to sign players without a new collective bargaining agreement. In the past, being undrafted would sometimes offer advantages over the seventh-round picks. With all 32 teams able to get into a potential bidding war, players could inexplicably make more money by not being draft than being selected in the seventh round. As things currently stand, those undrafted players may find themselves on the outside looking in until there is a resolution to the labor issues plaguing the league.

There won't be members of the Vikings organization working the phones with players and agents following the draft because, like veteran free agents, teams won't be able to have any contact with those players in the hours after the draft – or for the foreseeable future until a new CBA is reached.

For those players who are already in the league, there is little doubt that, once an abbreviated free-agent period begins, they will get their contracts signed. However, for those hoping to take advantage of the competition for undrafted free agents to get better contracts than seventh-rounders, their football careers will be left in limbo for weeks, if not months, after the final draft pick is made on Saturday.

Those players have made rosters over the years thanks in large part to making an impression on their coaching staff during the summer months when they are working out every day at team facilities. If not for that process, Hall of Famer John Randle may have never gotten the chance to win a roster spot. With the likelihood that, if there is a preseason, it will get shortened, the chances of those players making NFL rosters could be greatly reduced – making them an unintended casualty of the NFL CBA war.


  • There is a lot of steam growing that, if the Vikings want to draft Washington QB Jake Locker, they won't be able to slip backward to get him. In fact, they may have to move up in the draft to land him. Several mock drafts have Locker going No. 8 to Tennessee, including ones that include Titans media correspondents – who one would expect would be at least partially dialed in as to what direction they will pursue in the first round.

  • Packers defensive tackle Johnny Jolly may have avoided prison time, but one has to wonder if he has an NFL future anymore after being a promising pro prospect early in his career. Jolly pled guilty last week to possessing more than 200 grams of codeine, a similar charge to what derailed the career of QB JaMarcus Russell, who included the narcotic often found in cough syrup into a party beverage commonly referred to as "purple drank" in the recreational drug world. As part of his plea agreement, Jolly received five years probation in return for one of two separate codeine possession charges being dropped. After being suspended for all of the 2010 season, it would seem that he could potentially get a lifetime ban from the league. Even if he receives the same sentence, two years out of the league seems like an awful long time. His affinity for codeine cost him a chance to win a coveted Super Bowl ring.

  • When the Twins moved out of the Metrodome at the end of the 2009 season, fans were warned that they might have to deal with having games delayed by weather. On Friday, the Twins and Vikings found themselves tied for home games eliminated due to weather. The Twins have had two games postponed at open-air Target Field, while the Vikings had two games moved thanks to the collapse of the Metrodome roof last December.

    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.

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