Burress, Others Gain Vikings' Interest

How the mighty have fallen ... and apparently the Vikings are in position to see if they can take advantage of that fall. Plaxico Burress has raised red flags regarding his character and his ability on the field, and a Pittsburgh source let's us in on some of the issues. Plus, an agent says two of his clients are interested in the Vikings.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress was considered one of the top wide receivers available at the outset of the free-agent signing period nine days ago. He was reportedly looking for a $10 million signing bonus.

At this point, Burress might do well to get any million-dollar bonus, as giving guaranteed money to him would be a risk of some sort.

Burress has been passed over by several teams seeking a No. 1 wide receiver, including the Minnesota Vikings late last week, as players like Muhsin Muhammed signed with the Chicago Bears, Derrick Mason signed with the Baltimore Ravens and T.J. Houshmandzadeh re-signed with the Cincinatti Bengals.

Now the Vikings are back in the mix with a visit from Burress today.

Meanwhile, Burress has had a hard time generating much interest, and it would appear his lack of suitors has as much to do with his attitude as it does his 2004 falloff in statistics (after producing at least 60 catches a season from 2001-2003 with a high of 78 for 1,325 yards in 2002, Burress managed only 35 receptions for 698 yards last year).

The Vikings were said to have an interest in him initially, but that was as much Burress' agent pursuing a contract for him as it was the Vikings taking the initiative. According to a team source, Burress was never heavily on the team's radar until now. Instead, it was Burress agent making the initial contact with the team last week.

After finding out that the 6-foot-5, 226-pounder had an interest in Minnesota, the Vikings checked him out. Still, they allowed him to visit with the New York Giants earlier this week.

Thursday, New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi said the club will no longer pursue Burress. The wide receiver was scheduled to meet with Giants officials Monday and maybe Tuesday. Snow in the area and illnesses have been cited as reasons he missed those meetings. But given his history of tardiness and missed meetings in Pittsburgh, NFL teams' tolerance for his excuses is probably thinning.

The New York Giants are no longer interested in free agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress and have withdrawn their offer," Accorsi said. The Giants were reportedly offering a six-year, $24 million contract with a $8 million signing bonus.

It's unclear whether Burress rejected that offer first or whether the Giants simply rescinded it.

Besides his lack of punctuality for meetings, Burress made inappropriate comments to Steelers owner Art Rooney, according to a member of the Pittsburgh media. And besides his character issues, he has some negative qualities on the field. According to our Pittsburgh source, he has earned two nicknames with Steelers fans – Plexiglass (because of hands like glass) and Spike (because he has apparently gone down to the ground and spiked the ball before being downed by contact). A hamstring injury last year also caused him to miss time.

The Vikings are also looking at trading for veteran wide receiver Rod Gardner or signing free-agent safety Darren Sharper, who was released by Green Bay yesterday. Both are represented by Joel Segal.

"We are speaking with the Vikings among several other teams, and nothing is imminent, although Rod has significant interest in the Vikings," Segal told Viking Update Thursday evening. "Also, Darren Shaper has significant interest as well."

The asking price for Gardner in a trade with the Redskins isn't known, but recently signed cornerback Fred Smoot gave Gardner, his former teammate in Washington, a vote of confidence this week.

"The Redskins gave Rod Gardner a chance to go out and seek a trade," Smoot said. "I think Rod would e a good piece of this puzzle if Coach (Mike Tice) wants to get a couple of more people to fill in for the Moss trade. Other than that, I'm going to let Coach handle it. He did a great job by coming and getting me, so I'm not going to doubt his recruiting skills."

The Vikings may still land a receiver in free agency, but with the No. 7 and No. 18 picks in the NFL Draft, their options are left wide open.


  • The Seattle Seahawks reached a multi-year contract agreement with tight end Itula Mili. If the Vikings hadn't been able to come to terms with Jermaine Wiggins, Mili was a candidate to replace Wiggins, as was Arizona's Freddie Jones, who was visiting the Vikings before Wiggins signed.

  • With Jay Feely. Joe Nedney and Todd Peterson signing with new teams this week, the Vikings may bide their time in their search for a potential new kicker. They still have Aaron Elling and Jose Cortez on the roster.

    "It's a backburner issue right now. We talked to people, but nothing really fit," a team source said. "If you're sweating in the press box when your guy is kicking, why would you want to bring in somebody else who again is going to make you sweat in the press box."

    If the next month of free agency doesn't produce a kicker, it is possible the Vikings would look at drafting a kicker. Mike Nugent is considered the top kicker in the draft, and the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder had the strongest leg of any kicker at the combine but was erratic in his kicks. The Miami Dolphins showed an interest in Nugent at the Senior Bowl.

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