As the Vikings put the finishing touches on one week of hectic back-to-business flurry of activity, there were a couple big-ticket items left to move from the to-do list to the completed pile.
Despite signing all 10 of their draft picks, along with two of their restricted free agents, nine outside unrestricted free agents and trading for Donovan McNabb, two big contracts were left to address as they prepared for their first training camp practice. Running back Adrian Peterson is entering what is effectively the final year of his contract and linebacker Chad Greenway is open to talking about signing a multi-year contract as he sits with a one-year franchise tag.
“I think just from our side we’re working through it. We’re ready and willing and waiting, so obviously I’m here and ready to practice and get this thing going,” Greenway said.
Greenway signed his franchise tag, worth about $10 million dollars, and hasn’t complained about receiving it, unlike some players. Still, he would like to have some guarantees that he will be a Viking beyond the 2011 season.
“You’d be ridiculous to be upset with getting that amount of change for one year, especially playing my position in the 4-3. Obviously, it’s a great amount of money, so [I’m] very fortunate for that,” he said. “The goal was to be in a long-term situation here so I could play here a long time and both sides can be happy.”
Frazier indicated Friday night, after free-agent signings could be completed, that Greenway’s deal would come before Peterson’s. While there don’t appear to be serious talks with Peterson’s agent at this time, Frazier said the Vikings “broached” the topic about what the team wants to do.
“We are in the process of trying to negotiate a long-term deal with Chad, and hopefully that’s going to get done,” Frazier said. “Adrian is a major part, as we’ve talked about many times, of our future. So we’re going to eventually get to that point where we want to talk to he and his agent about a long-term deal as well.”
On Friday, Frazier said “we’re not at that point now.”
The Vikings have to be in compliance with the $120.375 million salary cap by Aug. 4, and they entered last week close to $5 million over the cap. They released veterans Jimmy Kennedy and Madieu Williams, but after restructuring a contract for quarterback Donovan McNabb, resigning kicker Ryan Longwell and adding several unrestricted free agents, it’s unclear where their cap situation is at now.
To his credit, Peterson did not hold out from camp, checking in just before deadline as players were heading to their first meeting in Mankato, and Frazier said in his recent talks with the running back that the topic of his contract never came up. But it certainly sounds like the Vikings let his agent know where they stand.
“We’ve made it clear that we want to be able to do something long-term for Adrian,” Frazier said. “There is not any wondering about what the Vikings’ stance is. It’s just a matter of getting together and getting it done.”
Getting Greenway signed to a long-term deal and lowering his hit on the salary cap could become more of a priority.
“Obviously I like it here a lot. Played my whole career here, they’ve done nothing wrong to me so I don’t feel slighted in anyway,” Greenway said. “When I got the franchise [tag] I was humbled by that. I thought it was a good thing and they put me in a position where I didn’t have to worry about what this free agency thing was going to [do] and the lockout and all that. So we sit here now and hopefully we’ll be able to work out a long-term deal. Obviously, other than that, I play a one-year deal and be in the same position next year. So we’ll see what happens.”
Players were taking physicals on Sunday, but Frazier indicated that guard Anthony Herrera could start training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list. Herrera missed the final six games last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
The Vikings will also take it slow working cornerback Cedric Griffin back into the rotation, although he likely won’t start camp on the PUP list, Frazier said.
“Based on what the doctors told me, we’ve kind of got to go slow early on. But we want to try to get him ready for that San Diego game,” Frazier said.
VETERANS ON THE OUTSIDE
Nose tackle Pat Williams isn’t likely to return after the signing of Remi Ayodele, but Frazier wasn’t completely shutting the door on that possibility.
“We’ll still keep the door open until we know exactly where we are roster-wise,” Frazier said. “We’re still finalizing some things as we speak and if Pat finds something – he and I have talked about this – he’s going to do what he has to do. But we’ll see what happens. There’s still a lot to be done yet.”
Linebacker Ben Leber is in much the same situation. He’s still on the free-agent market, as well, but it appears the Vikings will open camp with Erin Henderson taking the first-team reps at weakside linebacker.
“We’re not having active discussions,” Frazier said of Leber. “He’s actually doing what he needs to do as far as furthering his career. There still are some possibilities maybe here, but couldn’t promise him anything. We just have to wait and see.”
After the release of Madieu Williams, the top three safeties to compete for his starting spot are Jamarca Sanford, Tyrell Johnson and rookie Mistral Raymond.
There are sure to be changes weekly, if not daily, to the Vikings roster during training camp and the preseason, but they were close to filling it out on the day players were required to report to Minnesota State. With an NFL-mandated maximum of 90 players for camp this year, the Vikings were at 89 on Sunday and planned to fill the final spot soon.
The Vikings announced the free-agent signings of WRs Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins, HB Tristan Davis, LBs Jonathan Gilmore and Mark Washington, OT Scott Kooistra and DE Cedric McKinley. They also announced they had re-signed their two restricted free agents, S Husain Abdullah and LB Erin Henderson, as well as a couple of their own unrestricted free agents, DT Fred Evans and K Ryan Longwell.
The team also got its entire 2011 draft class under contract, including QB Christian Ponder, TE Kyle Rudolph, DT Christian Ballard, CB Brandon Burton, OT DeMarcus Love, S Mistral Raymond, C Brandon Fusco, LB Ross Homan, DE D’Aundre Reed and WR Stephen Burton.
With all the moves, they had 89 players on the roster Sunday. They are allowed 90 in training camp this year, per NFL rules, and are expected to fill out the roster soon.
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.