Birk Contract Particulars

The new deal signed by Matt Birk will be cap friendly for the Vikings as they now set their sites on the next big fish to sign.

Capology is becoming a science in Minnesota. A couple of years ago, the team -- after Jeff Diamond mortgaged the future by locking up several players to long-term deals that several (like John Randle, Randall Cunningham and Todd Steussie) turned out not to be long-term deals -- brought in a capologist to massage the cap to the team's favor.

The result? One need look no further than the Matt Birk signing. He got a seven-year, $31 million deal with $6 million up front. Well, not quite. He got $4 million now and will get another $2 million in March, but it's the annual salaries that are interesting.

Next season, Birk will receive a $300,000 roster bonus if he makes the team. Every year after that, he will get $400,000 if he makes the 53-man roster. But, it's in the base salary numbers that the inside of the deal comes out. They are as follows: 2002 -- $800,000; 2003 -- $2.3 million; 2004 -- $3 million; 2005 $3.65 million; 2006 -- $4.3 million; 2007 -- $5 million; 2008 -- $5.7 million.

The bottom line of the deal is that from now until 2005, his cap number isn't that heinous by comparison to top centers in the league. If the team develops another center, he could get "Steussiesized" after the 2005 season. Between base salary and roster bonuses $16.2 million of the contract is tied into the final three years, whereas, if he would be released following the 2005 season, the Vikings would only be on the hook for $2.25 million in pro-rated signing bonus money, which would likely be spread over two years.

In short, the Vikings have rewarded Birk for a Pro Bowl appearance, but are still looking at the bottom line in contract negotiations.

* As reported yesterday, the Vikings signed fullback Matt Snider, who was cut by the Packers last week. He practiced Thursday and already is penned in to start on kickoff, kick return and punt return coverage teams, which will allow players like Robert Griffith or Jim Kleinsasser to put in less time on those teams and risk injury.
* To make room for Snider, the Vikings put WR Cedric James on injured reserve -- ending his rookie season.
* Brad Badger, who hurt his knee Wednesday, was back in practice Thursday. If he can't go, however, Everett Lindsay will start at left tackle Sunday.
* The official injury report to the league didn't include Badger. The only Viking on the list was CB Robert Tate, who is listed as probable with a shoulder injury. The Panthers, on the other hand, have several key injuries, including safety Mike Minter who is out with a knee injury, WR Patrick Jeffers (knee) and RB Richard Huntley (hamstring), who are listed as doubtful, and former Vikings CB Jimmy Hitchcock, who is probable and recovering from a concussion.
* Reserve linebacker Isaac Keys is scheduled to have shoulder surgery today. He has already been placed on I.R. by the team.
* For those expecting to see the early inactives listed in tomorrow's update, you won't find it. The league took out the early inactive list. Now teams will list eight players as inactive two hours before game time -- pissing off fantasy owners everywhere.

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