MINNEAPOLIS -- Heading into a draft where they didn't have a first-round pick, and following a season in which they received few contributions from their undrafted free-agent class, the Minnesota Vikings had a plan to bolster their rookie class by committing more money to a higher pedigree of college free agents.
"We were very aggressive in signing college free agents and we probably spent the most, I think, probably the most money since I have been here and tried to get the best talent out there," general manager Rick Spielman said after the draft concluded April 29. "We were very aggressive and had a game plan of how we were going to attack this so we could get better at it."
Time will tell whether the Vikings will get more out of their 2017 undrafted free agents, but they certainly spent the money to expect a greater return.
According to NFLPA salary data, the Vikings gave $85,000 worth of signing bonuses to their 13 undrafted free agents, guaranteeing another $107,500 in base salaries for 2017. That represented a $54,000 jump over what the Vikings gave in signing bonuses last year, and was $27,000 more than they'd allotted to any rookie free agent class since Mike Zimmer became head coach in 2014.
What's more, the Vikings had never given out more than $25,000 in total guaranteed salaries to rookie free agents since Zimmer took over; they gave at least $10,000 in guaranteed base salary money to five undrafted players this year.
LSU defensive end Tashawn Bower got the most guaranteed money, in the form of a $15,000 signing bonus and $30,000 guarantee. Southern Mississippi defensive tackle Dylan Bradley got a $15,000 bonus and $25,000 guaranteed.
According to Spotrac.com, Bower and Bradley ranked fourth and sixth, respectively, in total guaranteed money given to a 2017 rookie free agent. The Patriots, 49ers and Vikings were the only teams to guarantee $40,000 or more to a rookie free agent, with both teams giving at least that much to two players apiece. Brigham Young linebacker Harvey Langi, who got a $15,000 signing bonus and $100,000 guaranteed from New England, received the most money at signing of any 2017 undrafted free agent.
TCU tackle Aviante Collins got a $15,000 bonus and $20,000 in guaranteed salary, while Cincinnati linebacker Eric Wilson got $10,000 in both a signing bonus and base-salary guarantee. SMU cornerback Horace Richardson got a $7,500 bonus and $15,000 base-salary guarantee, and Montana defensive end Caleb Kidder paired a $7,500 salary guarantee with a $2,500 bonus.
Five other players received signing bonuses without base-salary guarantees: Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt, Michigan State tight end Josiah Price, Michigan State wide receiver R.J. Shelton and Texas A&M linebacker Shaan Washington got $5,000 bonuses, while Nebraska running back Terrell Newby received a $2,500 bonus.