Lyon agrees to contract with Vikings

On the same day that safety Matt Bowen signed an offer sheet with the Washington Redskins, free agent defensive lineman Billy Lyon agreed to terms of a three-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday.<p>

Earlier in the day, Bowen signed a four-year, $6 million offer sheet with the Washington Redskins. The Packers will get no compensation for losing Lyon and they have seven days to decide whether to match the offer to keep Bowen. If they do not match the offer for Bowen, a restricted free agent, the Packers will receive a sixth-round selection from Washington in the 2003 draft as compensation.

The Packers offered Bowen the minimum tender of $605,000 a few weeks ago. If they would have offered him a first-round tender, they would have had to pay him $1.3 million this season and the compensation would be a first-round draft choice.

Lyon, an unrestricted free agent, reportedly received a $500,000 signing bonus and $1 million in total salary this season.

Lyon is a fifth-year veteran who has played in 59 career games and started 7 for the Packers. The Vikings likely will use him as their top backup defensive lineman this season. Lyon played in all 16 games with two starts last season, notching 19 tackles and a pair of sacks. He posted a career-high 25 tackles in 2001 and has notched 8.0 career sacks.

"We're real excited that Billy is going to help us upgrade our pass rush in the middle of the line," said Vikings coach Mike Tice. "He is one of the under rated free agents available this year. He's a big man with excellent speed and a high motor. He's a player that we know very, very well."

Lyon is the first Packers' defensive lineman this season to leave via free agency, but the team is not expected to re-sign defensive end Vonnie Holliday, who also is an unrestricted free agent, because of salary cap restrictions. The Packers re-signed defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt to a six-year, $25.1 million contract last Saturday.

"I'm looking forward to coming in, working hard and being the consistent player that I have been so far in my career," Lyon said. "I've been lucky to be a part of a winning team and want to continue that. I think we have a lot of the pieces that we need to win a lot of ball games here."

Lyon joined the Packers following his release by Kansas City as an undrafted rookie in 1997 and spent the season on the practice squad. He played in all 16 regular-season games in 1999 and 2002.

As a collegian, Lyon played at Marshall University with Vikings WR Randy Moss and RB Doug Chapman.


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