EDEN PRAIRIE (AP) -- Time is running out for the Minnesota Vikings to sign first-round draft pick Bryant McKinnie, but the two sides appear as close to a deal as they've been during the 95-day holdout.
"For the first time since the whole thing got started," McKinnie said Monday, "I think it's started looking better."
The Vikings hope a contract agreement can be reached by Nov. 12 If McKinnie -- an All-American left tackle with the Miami Hurricanes selected seventh overall -- isn't signed by then, he's ineligible to play the rest of the season.
In that case, McKinnie -- the league's last unsigned draft pick -- would either be traded or re-enter the draft. A deal could only take place between March 1, 2003, and draft day in late April, but he'd have to be signed first.
"It's a work in progress," owner Red McCombs said before Sunday's game against Chicago. "We're still hopeful."
Ben Dogra, one of McKinnie's agents, didn't immediately return a phone call Monday.
Dogra and agent Jim Steiner turned down what the Vikings declared a final offer on Aug. 1, a five-year, $13.1 million contract that included an $8.1 million signing bonus. The No. 8 pick, Dallas safety Roy Williams, got a bonus of $9.3 million.
Asked Sunday whether he'd be willing to be flexible with his earlier offer, McCombs gave only a vague response.
"It's never been one platform at all," he said. "It's been an ongoing issue."
McKinnie watches the Vikings on TV when he can.
"I would like to get signed," he said. "The games I watch, I'm definitely looking at it like, 'I wonder what would happen if I were there."'
That's not all he's thinking about.
"I wonder how the team is looking at the situation," McKinnie said. "If I get signed, I would just get there in midseason and it'd be like, 'Hi, I'm here."'
Despite an impressive 25-7 victory over the Bears Sunday, the Vikings are still just 2-5.
"He can help us," said running back Michael Bennett, who rushed for a season-high 109 yards.
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