Russell More Than Likely Gone

The Vikings' change in personnel now looks to include the loss of restricted free agent Brian Russell to the Browns.

Brian Russell's tenure with the Vikings has been something of a shaky one. After tying for the NFL lead in interceptions with nine in 2003, Russell made as much money the last two years thanks to the league's performance-based pay than he did in salary. When the Vikings tendered him a one-year offer for $660,000, it looked like he would be back -- even if in a reserve role.

That took a hard left turn late Friday when the Browns signed Russell to an offer sheet. The terms have yet to be released, but it is thought to be a two-year deal and VU has been told that the likelihood of the Vikings matching the offer is remote.

Russell's situation took a turn for the worse in terms of his tenure with the Vikings when the team signed Packers safety Darren Sharper. The team offered one-year tenders to both Willie Offord and Russell. Offord signed his tender, while Russell met with the Browns March 13 to discuss a potential restricted free agent contract. That became a reality Friday when the Browns released safety Earl Little -- opening a roster spot for Russell.

The Vikings have up to one week to either match the offer or decline. If the Vikings pass, they will receive no compensation for Russell.

With the Vikings' hand forced by the Browns move, the only remaining significant unsigned player is cornerback Brian Williams, who has also been replaced in his starting job. The Vikings tendered Williams a contract that would require a first-round pick as compensation if a team signs him to an offer sheet.

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