Lorenzo Booker upset about cost of leaving UFL, thinks he'll fit in
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Lorenzo Booker paid his own $25,000 transfer fee to leave the United Football League, but the Minnesota Vikings' new halfback figures he lost a lot more than that.
Booker, who was among the UFL's leading rushers this fall with the Hartford Colonials, confirmed on Wednesday the Vikings wanted to him sign him following a workout two weeks ago.
But that was before UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue caved under widespread pressure and lowered the fee for signing with an NFL team from $150,000, with the option for players to pay the fee themselves. So, the Vikings passed.
The two-year contract Booker signed with the Vikings on Tuesday includes a base salary of $470,000 this season. That makes two game checks (2/17ths of his base salary) worth $55,294, meaning in all Booker lost a little more than $80,000 making the leap -- significantly more than his roughly $50,000 UFL salary.
Asked whether it was worth the tab, Booker said, "Sure, to be here. I'd rather be here than be at the house, wondering what he was going to do. I thought that trade-off was me going there and playing hard, and everybody else. That's what I thought the trade-off was. I didn't know it was going to be (80) grand."
Booker played in a similar offense with the Philadephia Eagles in 2008, and Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier wouldn't rule out activating him for Sunday's game, perhaps in a third-down role.
"Some of the terminology, some of the things we're asking him to do aren't unfamiliar to him," Frazier said. "We're hoping that as we go through this and we give him information there will be great recall and there's a possibility we may be able to get him on the field on Sunday."
The Vikings cleared room on the 53-man roster for Booker, 26, by placing Albert Young on injured reserve with an injury to his left medial collateral ligament. Young made the roster in part as a third-down back, but he had been inactive for nine of the Vikings' past 11 games, leaving starter Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart to split the work.
A third-year veteran who was out of football last year, Booker's best NFL season came in 2007, when he ran for 125 yards on 28 carries (4.5-yard average) and also caught 28 passes for 237 yards with the Miami Dolphins.
"Catching the ball, making people miss, those kind of things, creating mismatches with linebackers," Booker said. "Coming here, it's obvious I'm not going to be a first- and second-down back -- and again, that's not my strength, is to go and pound it out. My strength is to come in and be able to catch balls on third down, again, catch screens and be good in space, and that's exactly what I get to do here."