Done Deal -- Culp Gets $102M

While Kevin Garnett remains the financial big daddy of Minnesota sports, Daunte Culpepper took his first steps in a new tax bracket Friday -- signing a 10-year, $102 million contract extension that makes his the highest-paid Viking in franchise history.

When VU got wind Thursday night that a big contract signing was in the offing for Daunte Culpepper, we had to ask twice if the numbers we were being told were correct – 10 years, $100 million. As it turned out, they were (and then some). Friday the team announced Culpepper's deal was 10 years for $102 million – with $16 million tied up in a guaranteed signing bonus.

The deal, while clearly reworkable after five years from the extenstion of his current contract, is a sign that the Vikings have maintained their confidence in Culpepper as their man of the present and the future.

With only one year left on his current contract signed as a rookie, Culpepper was prepared to let the chips fall where they may if a deal wasn't struck.

"I was prepared to go into this season as it was," Culpepper said Friday. "But now that it's done, I'm very happy and blessed to be able to be secure and take care of my family."

Unlike recent deals signed by aging veterans like Brett Favre and Drew Bledsoe, Culpepper's deal is more in line with that signed by Philly's Donovan McNabb – since there is a realistic chance they will both see the final years of their current contracts.

* Unlike other Twin Cities media outlets that speculated that the Vikes would not sign Culpepper with Red McCombs as the owner, it entrenches our belief that the franchise is more likely to be sold now. McCombs has locked up three perennial Pro Bowlers in Culpepper, Randy Moss and Matt Birk and has the foundation in place for a potential suitor – local or otherwise – to know that there is star power on the team and stability for the long-term future that the studs on the team will remain.
* Lost in all of the Culpepper hoopla was the opening of minicamp. Kevin Williams was very solid in his first day as a Viking player and hopes remain high that he will provide a 1-2 punch with Chris Hovan to make defense a buzzword in the Vikings plans.
* Willie Offord was the first-team free safety in the opening day of camp and is expected to be this weekend too. But, VU continues to hear that Jack Brewer is the guy who will likely be there opening day – barring a free agent signing.
* Another story that will likely go largely unreported this week concerns a draft day deal that got aborted. The Broncos wanted to move into the No. 9 slot to get Terrell Suggs and were willing to give the Vikings a solid deal, but, once things went haywire and picks were flying off the board, the Broncos never got the chance.
* Is Brian Billick becoming the next Denny Green? VU has been told the Ravens have closed their minicamp from public view, apparently in response to talks about turmoil within the organization. Billick has always been a media darling. This could be the first step to the unraveling of that situation if things don't come out as planned this year in Ravenville.

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