MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Brock Lesnar is hoping to become the next big thing for the Minnesota Vikings.

Better known to World Wrestling Entertainment fans as ``The Next Big Thing,'' Lesnar signed a contract with the Vikings on Tuesday.

The former NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion from Minnesota wants to win a spot on the defensive line. At 6-foot-3 and 286 pounds, the 27-year-old Lesnar has not played football since his senior year of high school in South Dakota.

``He's very serious about this,'' said Lesnar's agent, Ed Hitchcock. ``He worked out today and (coach) Mike Tice said he wanted to sign him.''

Lesnar retired from the WWE in March. In April, he sustained a pulled groin, bruised pelvis, broken jaw and broken left hand in a motorcycle accident.

Lesnar tried out for the Vikings in June and had another workout with them on Tuesday. The Vikings open training camp on Friday.

After that workout a month ago, Lesnar said, ``This isn't a publicity stunt.''

``This is the real deal,'' he said then. ``It's something I want to do. I don't want to wake up when I'm 50 years old and say I should have tried.''

Scott Studwell, the Vikings' director of college scouting, was willing to give Lesnar another look.

``He is a project with a capital P,'' Studwell said in June. ``He's got physical tools, but he has a long way to go.''

Hitchcock said then-Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy expressed interest in Lesnar after he left school.

``Football is something he's always wanted to pursue,'' Hitchcock said.

The Vikings also signed guard Tam Hopkins. They released safety Ben Nauman and defensive tackle Jeff Womble.