No Lose Situation

The Vikings have until Friday to decide whether or not to match an offer sheet given by Cleveland to Brian Russell and might find their best option is to match it.

It's been no secret that the Vikings have been looking to replace Brian Russell in the secondary -- even after an NFL-leading nine interceptions in 2003. But now they may want to re-think their plan.

The Vikings gave Russell a low-ball tender offer of $656,000 to stay with the team -- a figure so low that if he was signed to an offer sheet, the Vikings would receive no compensation. But, as word got out as to the amount of the Browns offer, the Vikings might be smarter to match it.

VU has been told that the offer is two years at $1.5 million -- which, if you were to pro-rate Russell's contract for two years under the current deal he has on the table, would only be about $100,000 more.

While the Vikings got their wish and found a replacement in the starting lineup for Russell, having an experienced backup is a positive that outweighs a minimal bump in pay. While the Vikings might be satisfied to throw Willie Offord to the wolves again, with the insignificant difference in the two offers on the table, the team might well be better suited to match the offer and not go into the season with an unknown in the backup ranks.

* Let the gamesmanship begin. The Vikings are going to bring in some draft prospects in the next couple of weeks, headlined by running back Cadillac Williams. There is a good possibility that Williams will be available at No. 7 and knowing the Denny Green craves a RB, this could be nothing more than posturing to get those teams interested in Williams talking about moving up into the No. 7 spot.
* NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and some top NFL executives are in St. Paul today to meet with legislators about jump-starting a stadium drive for the Blaine location.

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