On the NFL: Market for undrafted free agents is booming

John Randle LOLed at a text asking him how much guaranteed money he got in his first NFL contract.

A few minutes later, the legendary Vikings defensive tackle was on the phone laughing about life as an undersized undrafted free agent back in 1990.

“I got five grand in a signing bonus,” he said. “Three grand after taxes.”

It was a tad more team-friendly deal than what has developed in the undrafted free-agent market in recent years, particularly this spring when teams scrambled after the draft with guaranteed money offers the size of which had never been seen before.

“Yeah, it’s different,” said former Vikings General Manager Jeff Diamond, who first signed Randle. “I’ve told the story a few times, joking, ‘Hey, I signed a Hall of Famer for five grand.’ “

This year, the Vikings and Eagles were two of the most aggressive teams in the undrafted free-agent market. The Eagles paid $1.75 million in guaranteed money to 12 UDFAs two years after committing only $764,000 to 13 of them. The Vikings, meanwhile, took two big financial swings on edge-rushing outside linebackers for their new 3-4 defense.

Zach McCloud, a 6-2, 235-pounder from the University of Miami (Fla.), got $250,000 guaranteed, a team record for an undrafted free agent and the second highest in the league this year behind the $320,000 the Eagles gave Nevada quarterback Carson Strong. Meanwhile, Luiji Vilain, a 6-4, 252-pounder from Wake Forest, got $227,000…

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