Vikings sign Hodges, Mauti and Dawkins to rookie deals

Gerald Hodges became the first draft pick to sign with Minnesota and was followed by two others.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Gerald Hodges decided to break the good news himself. The Minnesota Vikings followed up with news of their own.

Hodges, Minnesota's fourth-round draft pick out of Penn State, wrote on his Twitter page (@g_hodges6) that he was signing his contract with Minnesota on Tuesday, complete with a picture of him signing. Later, the Vikings officially announced Hodges' signing along with the signing of seventh-round draft picks Michael Mauti and Everett Dawkins, leaving six more picks to sign for Minnesota.

Hodges, an outside linebacker who could get the chance to start immediately, had 109 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery last season for Penn State. The Vikings have an open spot at linebacker after Jasper Brinkley signed with the Arizona Cardinals in March.

"Happiest moment of my life," Hodges tweeted. "I got called up to sign my contract after my workout #GODISAMAZING"

Hodges was the team's fourth of nine draft pick and the first of two Penn State linebackers, along with fellow old and new teammate, Mauti. Mauti is trying to return from tearing an anterior cruciate ligament for the third time in his career. He's still in the recovery stage, but is hoping to be ready when training camp begins in July. Mauti had 95 tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 11 games last season before missing the end of the season with the latest injury.

Dawkins, a defensive lineman out of Florida State, had 26 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a half-sack last season for the Seminoles.

Four years is the standard for all non first-round rookie contracts. First rounders can sign for five years. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Tuesday that Hodges' deal is for "around $2.5 million."

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