Vikings take lead in slew of first-round signings
The Minnesota Vikings have wrapped up deals with all of their draft choices, as the team late Wednesday night reached an agreement in principle with first-round selection Chad Greenway, a linebacker from Iowa who likely will start as a rookie in the club's retooled defense.
Barring any last-minute complications, Greenway, the 17th overall choice in the draft, is scheduled to officially sign a five-year contract on Thursday and report along with the rest of the team to training camp. The Vikings' initial practice under first-year head coach Brad Childress is on Friday morning. The contract could be worth up to $13.25 million with roster and performance bonuses.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Vikings signed second-round quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to a four-year contract worth $2.7 million-$2.8 million. The former Alabama State standout is viewed as the Vikings' quarterback of the future, but will be brought along slowly this season, and likely will be No. 3 on the depth chart behind starter Brad Johnson and backup Mike McMahon.
There isn't likely to be such an apprenticeship for Greenway, who will challenge veteran E.J. Henderson for the starting job at weakside linebacker in camp. Under new defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, who has installed the "cover two" scheme he learned while working in Tampa Bay, the Vikings have shuffled their linebackers during spring workouts, seeking the right three-man combination.
Chiefs agree with first-rounder Hali
The Kansas City Chiefs signed first-round draft choice Tamba Hali, the standout defensive end from Penn State, to a five-year contract on Friday before the first session of training camp. Financial details of the deal were not immediately available.
The 20th overall choice in the draft, Hali has expected to play an important role as the Chiefs implement a cover two scheme under new coach Herm Edwards.
Hali played in 47 games at Penn State, and started 34 of them, registering 179 tackles, including 36 tackles for losses. He had 14 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception.
A native of Liberia, Hali is noted for his big motor and intensity, along with his big-play skills. Some teams dropped him on their draft boards because of what they felt were slow 40-yard times, but the Chiefs had no such concerns.
Giants reach agreement with Kiwanuka
The deal, negotiated by agent Tom Condon over the last two days, is for five years, the maximum permitted for a player chosen in the second half of the opening round, and is worth slightly less than $10 million. Kiwanuka was the last player taken in the first round, after the Giants traded back with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who moved up to grab Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
Kiwanuka is guaranteed $5 million under terms of the deal, which were reached a little more than 12 hours before the Giants were to report to camp.
"The millionaire part is good," Kiwanuka said. "But I think the most exciting part is that this is day one for me. This is the official day one. I have been a part of the team, kind of, now that it is signed and over with, I'm happy."
The Giants already have one of the NFL's top end tandems in Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, and so Kiwanuka likely will slide into the No. 3 spot. He is expected to be used in nickel situations, and the New York coaches during the spring experimented with a four-man rush front that was comprised only of ends.
A pure pass-rusher, blessed with an explosive first step and excellent closing speed on the quarterback, Kiwanuka set a school record for sacks, with 37½.
The New England Patriots wanted to add depth at tailback and chose Minnesota's Laurence Maroney with the 21st pick in the first round. According to ESPN's John Clayton, that investment will cost the team $8 million over five years in a deal agreed upon Thursday night.
As a junior last season, the 6-foot, 216-pound Maroney rushed for 1464 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Limited by injuries, Patriots veteran Corey Dillon ran for a career-low 3.5 yards per carry and 733 yards overall.
The San Francisco 49ers signed defensive end Manny Lawson on Thursday night, getting one of their two first-round draft picks under contract on the eve of training camp.
Clayton is reporting that the deal is for five years and $8.515 million.
Lawson, who played alongside No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams at North Carolina State, was the 22nd overall pick. He could be a starter on the 49ers' defense, which finished last season ranked 32nd -- dead last -- in the NFL.
The 49ers chose Maryland tight end Vernon Davis with the sixth pick, but still haven't reached a deal. San Francisco opens camp at its training complex on Friday.
Clayton is also reporting that Tampa Bay and guard Davin Joseph of Oklahoma are close to terms on a five-year, $8.2 million deal.
The Buccaneers No. 1 pick and the 23rd overall selection is expected to compete for a starting job right away.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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