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Fullback Zach Line got largest bonus among Vikings' undrafted rookies

by Tom Pelissero, 1500ESPN.com Updated 11 months ago | 14084 reads

Nicholas Edwards got decent coin for a weekend's work.

The Minnesota Vikings waived the former Eastern Washington receiver on Monday, just three days after giving him a $5,000 signing bonus that ranked among the largest they handed out this year to undrafted rookies.

Southern Methodist fullback Zach Line collected the largest bonus from the Vikings ($8,000), just ahead of Florida State receiver Rodney Smith and Ohio State linebacker Nathan Williams ($7,000 each), according to sources with knowledge of the contracts.

All the Vikings' undrafted rookie signings received three-year contracts with non-guaranteed base salaries of $410,000 in 2013, $495,000 in 2014 and $585,000 in 2015 and injury splits in the first two years.

Edwards' quick release after the rookie minicamp was a reminder of how quickly things can change in the NFL, particularly for undrafted players in whom teams have made a relatively minimal investment under a collective-bargaining agreement that caps those investments.

In 2011, the undrafted rookie reservation was $75,000. In 2012, it was $76,585. The average guarantee per player went from $4,859 to $5,733, thanks to several agents negotiating guaranteed portions of base salary into the deals. But the numbers remain modest by NFL standards.

Among the largest signing bonuses handed out this year were $17,000 to linebacker Lerentee McCray (Denver) and $15,000 each to receiver Markus Davis (New York Giants) and cornerback Deveron Carr (Tampa Bay), according to a recent NFL Players Association memo.

The Vikings spread their money more evenly, divvying out $64,500 in bonuses to 15 of the 16 players they signed before rookie minicamp began. Here's a breakdown:

• Zach Line, FB, Southern Methodist: $8,000 bonus.
• Rodney Smith, WR, Florida State: $7,000 bonus.
• Nathan Williams, LB, Ohio State: $7,000 bonus.
• James Vandenberg, QB, Iowa: $5,000 bonus.
• Nicholas Edwards, WR, Eastern Washington: $5,000 bonus.*
• Marquis Jackson, DE, Portland State: $5,000 bonus.
• Collins Ukwu, DE, Kentucky: $5,000 bonus.
• Jerodis Williams, RB, Furman: $4,000 bonus.
• Brandan Bishop, S, North Carolina State: $3,000 bonus.
• Darius Eubanks, S, Georgia Southern: $3,000 bonus.
• Mark Jackson, T, Glenville State: $3,000 bonus.
• Anthony McCloud, DT, Florida State: $3,000 bonus.
• Erik Highsmith, WR, North Carolina: $2,500 bonus.
• Bradley Randle, RB, UNLV: $2,500 bonus.
• Colin Anderson, TE, Furman: $1,500 bonus.
• Camden Wentz, C, North Carolina State: No bonus.

* Released on Monday

Last year, the Vikings' largest undrafted rookie bonus went to nose tackle Chase Baker, who spent the season on the practice squad and was re-signed to a futures deal after the season.

The Vikings tried out 34 players at the rookie camp and signed two: former Minnesota State, Mankato receiver Adam Thielen and tackle Brandon Keith, who played with the Arizona Cardinals from 2008 to '11.

Details on those contracts were not immediately available. Since he wasn't signed in the initial wave after the draft, it's unlikely Thielen received a bonus.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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