Vikings Avoid Franchise Tag Malaise

The Vikings have successfully steered clear of burning their franchise tag on players like Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper. For those who haven't, it has been a painful and expensive process.

A year ago last spring, the Vikings shocked some in the NFL by using one of their rare invocations of their franchise tag. Did they use it on Daunte Culpepper or Randy Moss? No. They used it on Jim Kleinsasser just to avoid losing him.

It was a "win-win" for both sides, because Kleinsasser was able to benefit from being paid the average of the top five TE salaries, which included big ticket players like Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe and Wesley Walls. In time, the Vikings and Kleinsasser agreed to a five-year, $15 million deal to remain a Viking.

The Vikes have been an exception to the rule in that regard. Of the top free agents on the market, almost all were franchised and, of those players, only one has signed and he was traded to get that done.

Six teams -- the Redskins, Rams, Seahawks, 49ers, Raiders and Ravens -- all used the franchise designation this year. Of those, the only player who has signed is Champ Bailey, whom the Redskins traded away. Of the others, OTs Orlando Pace and Walter Jones, CBs Charles Woodson and Chris McAlister and LB Julian Peterson all remained unsigned with less than a month remaining until the start of training camp.

As of today, none of the five remaining franchised players has signed and there looks little likelihood that Pace or Jones -- who were franchised last year and both had sitdown strikes of their own -- will be signed. The contentious nature of the franchise tag is getting more and more volatile all the time. Perhaps more teams will take the lead of the Redskins and Bills and trade away their franchise players instead of letting them hit the free agent market and get nothing in return.

* Former Vikings great Bill "Boom Boom" Brown's wife, Kay, died in her sleep Tuesday morning. Kay had been on dialysis and was in line for an organ transplant. She had lost significant weight in recent years, but the family wasn't expecting her death. Viking Update's family would like to extend our sympathies to the Brown family.
* Former Viking Eric Kelly, who was released after refusing to show up for minicamp following a roster demotion, has signed with the Houston Texans.

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