Kevin Williams (Joe Robbins/Getty)
The Vikings were heavily affected by a couple of non-draft items on Thursday. Kevin Williams is facing a suspension that could cost him more than $1 million, but he could make up $500,000 in workouts, which will start soon as football business returns to some normalcy.
The Vikings found far more news that related to them Thursday than “just” the first round of the draft.
Among the items affecting them:
The NFL released a statement Thursday saying that players will be allowed to work out at practice facilities starting Friday morning.
That means the Vikings are preparing to resume offseason workouts next week.
And, finally, the StarCaps case involving Pat Williams and Kevin Williams was refused by the Minnesota Supreme Court, meaning the two defensive tackles are expected to be suspended, likely for four games, when the season starts.
Facilities opening: The NFL notified clubs that starting Friday morning, players are allowed to work out at the facilities. For the Vikings, the more important piece is that they can issue playbooks and start talking to their players about the new schemes being implemented by the new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.
Players can also rehabilitate injuries, get physical exams, and study film or go through other classroom activities. Coaches can also have contact with the players, something they weren’t allowed during the lockout.
One interesting provision is that any minicamps and organized team activities will be subject to the rules of the CBA signed in 2006. If the 2010 rules of free agency are applied, it would mean that defensive end Ray Edwards and wide receiver Sidney Rice would be restricted, allowing the Vikings to hold onto them with the one-year tenders they issued before the lockout started.
The league’s announcement caused the Vikings’ top brass to meet about six hours before the draft started to figure out how to proceed.
“I never would’ve guessed that at 1 o’clock (the vice presidents and ownership) would be all sitting together going through all of the legal stuff and what we can and cannot do with the players and how it’s going to open up (Friday),” said vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman. “It’s just another exciting part of the day.”
Workouts starting: The NFL’s announcement prompted the Vikings to start informing players that formal workouts will begin next week. That could include organized team activities (OTAs), depending on the NFL’s directive, which is expected to be given to teams on Friday.
“I’ve talked to a number of our players (Thursday) afternoon, just making them aware of the fact that they can come over and work out and our coaches are talking with them as well, making them aware that they can come over and work out (Friday) and starting next week, hopefully being able to be around the building,” head coach Leslie Frazier said Thursday night. “So, we’ve already begun the process, introducing them to the fact that we’re open for business and we’d like to begin to look towards minicamps and OTAs (organized team activities) and we’re waiting on some word regarding that. But right now we are making plans to put in place some OTAs and minicamps.”
For several Vikings, the start of the workouts is important and incoming-producing. Kevin Williams has a $500,000 workout bonus and left tackle Bryant McKinnie is scheduled to make $250,000 in bonus money if he fulfills his workout clause. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, wide receiver Bernard Berrian, guard Anthony Herrera, safety Madieu Williams and linebacker E.J. Henderson each have $100,000 workout bonuses built into their contract.
Others stand to gain by the emergence of workouts as well. Steve Hutchinson is scheduled to make $50,000, as is cornerback Cedric Griffin, who will be busy finishing rehabilitation on his torn anterior cruciate ligament. Some have smaller bonuses, as low as a couple thousand dollars, and others have no workout bonuses to worry about.
Suspensions coming: While the labor situation isn’t completely resolved yet – especially for the long-term – the StarCaps case is poised to take Kevin Williams out of commission for the start of the season.
“The Star Caps case is closed with today's ruling,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail Thursday, but … “We will address the application of discipline after the league year starts.”
Pat and Kevin Williams were initially given four-game suspensions, but have been appealing the decision since they initially tested positive for Bumetanide, a diuretic that was found in the dietary supplement StarCaps, which the players admitted to taking. However, Bumetanide, which can mask the presence of steroids, wasn’t listed on the ingredients of the StarCaps bottle and neither player is accused of taking steroids.
Pat Williams, a free agent, told Viking Update in a text last month that he wouldn’t be returning to the team, but Kevin is under contract through 2014.
The NFL said in a statement it plans to distribute to teams “a comprehensive set of procedures governing” free-agent signings, trades, terminations and tryouts.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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.