McCombs Says He'll Exercise Tice's Option

Vikings owner Red McCombs told Sports Ilustrated that he plans to exercise the final option year of Mike Tice's first head-coaching contract. Previously, McCombs had said he would address the issue after the season.

Sports Illustrated has a long reach. And, if a story coming out this week in the current edition of SI is true, Mike Tice not only has a job next year, it sounds like he has job security.

The SI story quotes Vikings owner Red McCombs as saying he has decided to pick up his option year on Tice's contract — which would be a raise from $750,000 a year to $1 million a year. He added that after the season the prospect of a long-term deal will be discussed and Tice will be with him as his coach as long as he wants.

Tice is the lowest-paid coach in the NFL at $750,000. The next lowest is former Vikings player and current Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio.

The timing of the story, a year after McCombs chewed out the locker room following a loss to the Giants, could be interpreted many ways. It could be an olive branch — that was then and this is now. Or it could be show of long-term support without actually ponying up the dough just yet.

Considering Tice was the only coach on the staff "officially" not signed through 2005, it should have just been a formality. And from the way the team and the fans have responded to Tice, and the talent the front office has brought in through free agency and the draft, maybe a long-term deal will come on the table sooner than later.

* Dontarrious Thomas will remain at middle linebacker in nickel situations. His ability to track down plays has earned raves from his position coaches and, as long as keeps making plays, he'll keep the job.
* One area where the Vikings and Giants are extremely different is how they perform coming out of their bye week. The Vikings historically have fared extremely well going into and coming out of byes. The Giants lost out of their bye week against the Lions Sunday, dropping their record coming out of byes to 3-13 since the bye week was instituted.
* The Giants aren't alone. NFL teams are 7-9 coming out of bye weeks this season.
* Mike Nattiel has been called out by the coaches to improve in a hurry or risk be deactivated on Sundays or even cut.
* The Vikings defense will be keying on Tiki Barber Sunday for good reason. Through the first six games, Barber has 989 total yards – 647 rushing and 342 receiving. That's the third highest total through the first six games in NFL history — behind only Jim Brown (1,153 in 1963) and Marshall Faulk (1,083 in 2000). That is pretty select company.
* The Giants have won the last two regular-season meetings with the Vikings. This will be the third straight year they've met during the regular year.
* If the season were to end today, the six NFC playoff teams would have the Eagles and Vikings on a bye with the wild-card Lions playing the Rams and the wild-card Giants playing at Atlanta.

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