Sean Payton reportedly stole a UDFA from the Vikings

Level Bailey
Level Bailey / Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most intense times for NFL general managers is when the NFL Draft ends and there is a mad scramble for undrafted free agents. The Minnesota Vikings know this time all too well since they have found some gems as undrafted free agents in recent history.

This year, the Vikings agreed to terms with 17 undrafted free agents. Among them are some highly-rated prospects who could find their way to the team's 53-man roster or the practice squad during the 2024 NFL season.

Unlike the NFL Draft, UDFAs can choose where they want to go if they have multiple offers on the table. Although Minnesota has many appealing arguments for signing with them, players can choose to go elsewhere.

Sean Payton reportedly stole a UDFA from the Vikings

One of the most desirable undrafted free agents was Fresno State linebacker Levelle Bailey. It is reported that he garnered interest from the Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos in addition to Minnesota.

Bailey ended up signing with the Broncos and the reason he didn't end up in a purple and gold jersey is because Denver and head coach Sean Payton were extremely aggressive in their pursuit of the young linebacker.

Former St. Paul Pioneer Press Vikings beat writer and current Denver Gazette Broncos beat writer Chris Tomasson shared just how aggressive Payton and the Broncos were in going after Bailey as an undrafted free agent.

Vikings fans are likely already a bit unhappy with Sean Payton for saying he was actively trying to trick Minnesota into trading up for J.J. McCarthy but now hearing about how he worked to keep a young linebacker from signing with Minnesota adds some fuel to that fire.

Levelle Bailey played five productive years at Fresno State where he played in 58 games, intercepted six passes, forced five fumbles, made 277 total tackles and had 26 tackles for a loss including 6.5 sacks.

The Fresno State linebacker going undrafted was a bit of a surprise, but it is less of a surprise that so many teams were interested in him as a UDFA. The persistence of the Broncos was enough to keep him from becoming a Viking.

Time will tell if Levelle Bailey will develop into a solid NFL player, but the fact that the Denver Broncos will have the opportunity to get the first look at him as a professional should irk Minnesota Vikings fans.