Despite Visanthe Shaincoe being targeted only twice in the last three games – including none in Sunday's season finale – he has been the target of a more important pass made by the Minnesota Vikings.
Shiancoe hasn't signed a contract extension with the Vikings, but he is one of the few pending free agents the team has been talking with about a new contract.
For the past few weeks, there were indications the team was trying to get something done with Shiancoe's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and Shiancoe told Viking Update there were preliminary talks, but those didn't produce an extension by Saturday's deadline to put some of the bonus money against the 2011 salary cap. In the Vikings' case, they might not have had much room left on the cap anyway after signing several backup players in the final month of the season to compensate for season-ending injuries to other players.
But the talks at least signaled an interest in Shiancoe by the Vikings while other pending free agents, such as linebackers Erin Henderson and E.J. Henderson, said they haven't seen any interest from the Vikings yet about a potential contract extension.
"I've got decisions to make. That's all I'm going to say. You can read through that. A lot of decisions to make," Shiancoe said after Sunday's season finale, a 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. "The thing is, I love Minnesota. I love you guys. … I like messing you with you all. I like messing with the fans. That's just me."
Up until the last three weeks, Shiancoe was the second-most targeted player on the Vikings, behind receiver Percy Harvin, who finished with 120 passes thrown his way, catching 87 of them for 967 yards and six touchdowns. With receiver Devin Aromashodu being targeted 20 times in the last three games, he surpassed Shiancoe with 84 targets on the season Shiancoe finished with 70 passes directed his way, catching 36 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns.
After backing up Jeremy Shockey with the New York Giants for the first four years of his career, Shiancoe signed a five-year, $18.2 million contract with the Vikings in 2007. Despite Shiancoe catching only 35 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns in his first four years in the league, then-coach Brad Childress remembered working out Shiancoe with the Philadelphia Eagles before the draft and knew he could be more than the blocking tight end he was with the Giants.
With 13-year veteran tight end Jim Kleinsasser retiring, the Vikings appeared to be preparing rookie Kyle Rudolph for a more prominent role. In Sunday's game, Rudolph was on the field far more than Shiancoe, but Shiancoe said that was primarily because Rudolph is better at some of the backfield lead blocking duties that were being called.
Asked if he could use a fresh start, Shiancoe continued to choose his words carefully and repeat his Sunday mantra: "I've got a lot of decisions to make."
Shiancoe said he will go back to Maryland now that the season is done. If he does end up signing elsewhere, he said he would miss the camaraderie of the Vikings.
"Definitely I will, if that's the case," he said. "If that's the case."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Shiancoe has Vikings' interest
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