Tice, Culpepper Want Linehan Back

Head coach Mike Tice and quarterback Daunte Culpepper were two members of the organization publicly campaigning for the return of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. But with the unpredictable nature of owner Red McCombs, nobody knows how this drama will end yet.

Vikings coach Mike Tice and quarterback Daunte Culpepper both made impassioned pleas on Monday for the return of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, whose contract expires Jan. 31.

"We have three years with the same program, the same coordinator, the same quarterback-coordinator relationship," Tice said. "If that comes to an end, then we are taking a huge step backwards. ... so that is a significant topic of conversation" heading into the offseason.

The Vikings' season ended Sunday with a 27-14 NFC divisional playoff loss at Philadelphia. With Tice and the rest of the assistants under contract through next season, Linehan's status is the No. 1 priority besides the potential that owner Red McCombs could sell the team at some point, although he has been on the market for more than two years.

Linehan isn't under contract for 2005 because at the time of his deal he didn't want a contract that was longer than Tice's. McCombs didn't pick up the option on Tice's contract for 2005 until the week before the Jan. 2 regular season finale.

Linehan, 41, said he's looking for job security for his family because he already has moved six times because of coaching jobs. Although Linehan has directed one of the best offenses in the NFL and nurtured Culpepper to back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons, he said he is concerned about signing a one-year deal because of the unpredictable nature of the coaching profession.

Linehan hasn't heard from any other teams regarding openings for an offensive coordinator. He is believed to be on the list of candidates for offensive coordinator at Jacksonville, among other teams.

The Vikings could be in a difficult position when it comes to retaining Linehan. First of all, they pay their coaches less than any other team in the league. Secondly, McCombs has said he won't discuss a multi-year extension for Tice until after next season.

If Linehan doesn't want a one-year deal and he doesn't want a contract that is longer than Tice's, he might have to leave.

Linehan said he will sit down with Tice and vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski in the next couple of days. He might also meet with McCombs soon.

"I think it's very important that we bring Scott back," Tice said. "Whether that can happen or not remains to be seen. Certainly, it will be one of the topics on the agenda when I meet with Red on Thursday (for the annual State of the Purple presentation). Way up on the list."

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