Sidney Rice (Andy King/AP)
The Vikings tendered restricted free-agent offers to several players, including Sidney Rice and Ray Edwards, even though some of those offers might not hold up with a new collective bargaining agreement.
Even though the business of football is likely to shut down at 11 p.m. tonight, the business of football went on Wednesday. The Vikings placed tenders on most of their restricted free agents, even though players like Sidney Rice and Ray Edwards – the two most high-profile free agents – will likely become unrestricted free agents when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
Rice and Edwards got first-round tenders, meaning the Vikings would receive a first-round pick if the player signed with another team and the Vikings declined to match the offer. The Vikings also put second-round tenders on defensive end Brian Robison, safety Husain Abdullah and offensive lineman Ryan Cook. Safety Eric Frampton is believed to have received a fifth-round tender.
Under the current CBA, until last season, players without contracts became unrestricted free agents after four years of service. When the owners opted out, a condition in the CBA increased that time from four years to six – making players like Edwards, who expected to hit the unrestricted free-agent market last year, restricted and subject to the conditions of their tendered contracts.
Both Rice and Edwards would be subject to being paid about $3.5 million under their tendered offer agreements. If a new CBA drops the eligibility for free agency back to four years, not only would both Rice and Edwards become unrestricted free agents, but so would Robison, Cook, Tarvaris Jackson, Fred Evans, Naufahu Tahi and Hank Baskett. If a compromise is reached, capping the UFA designation to five years, Edwards, Cook, Jackson, Evans, Tahi and Baskett would become unrestricted, but Rice and Robison would not. Abdullah and Frampton are both three-year pros that likely would be restricted even under a new agreement, since owners wouldn’t want to drop the free agency threshold to just three seasons.
Under the terms of tendering contracts, the result is setting the compensation rate should another team sign that player – with the caveat that the Vikings wouldn’t match the offer and allow the player to leave. As such, if Rice and Edwards are restricted and another team signs them, they would give the Vikings a first-round draft pick the next season as compensation, with second-rounders going for Robison, Cook and Abdullah.
There was some surprise that the Vikings didn’t throw the maximum tag value at Rice – a first- and third-round pick as compensation. That has been a near-death sentence for teams looking to sign a player, since a first- and third-rounder has almost always been too steep a price to pay when other non-compensatory options were available in free agency. Yet, a first-rounder for Rice would be an option several teams could consider, especially those with aspirations of having a big 2011 season and, as a result, would have a draft pick late in the first round to surrender.
Perhaps the Vikings are looking for a team to make an offer if Rice remains restricted. For now, those players are restricted, but some may not be whenever a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. Either way at 10:59 p.m. Thursday at Winter Park, business as usual could cease as the current CBA expires.
Ben Leber was one of the players in attendance at Wednesday’s mediation session between owners and the players union in Washington D.C. Leber, along with Kevin Mawae, Brian Dawkins, Drew Brees, Mike Vrabel, Tony Richardson, Charlie Batch and Domonique Foxworth were among the players that accompanied NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith Wednesday.
The NFL owners announced they would be willing to delay the end of the CBA tonight if there was a chance to get a new agreement in place. A similar situation happened when the last CBA was approved. In hopes of avoiding an uncapped year, free agency was pushed back three different times until a new agreement could be reached – a deal the owners hated from almost the minute it was signed and eventually opted out of.
In case you wonder why the Vikings didn’t tender Tarvaris Jackson with a contract, to do so they would have to tender Jackson a minimum of the round he was taken in – a second-round tender that the Vikings don’t seem willing to offer up despite currently having just Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar under contract at quarterback for 2011.
The Packers showed they’re officially through celebrating their Super Bowl win and getting back to business. On Wednesday, they cut A.J. Hawk, who was due a huge roster bonus ($10.5 million guaranteed on the first day of the NFL’s 2011 business year), but word is that he is going to re-sign a five-year contract that will likely reinstate the bonus in the form of guaranteed money, but lock him down for the next several seasons.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.