Liwienski Signs, Vets to Go

Wednesday should have been a day dominated by the signing of Chris Liwienski to a long-term, cap-friendly deal. Instead, talk is split between what happened yesterday and what is expected today.

Chris Liwienski had a tall order when being asked to step into the Vikings' starting lineup last season. His performance was rewarded Wednesday, as the Vikings signed him to a seven-year, $11 million contract with a $2.1 million signing bonus.

The contract is not what many would view as a deal given to a full-time starter, which Liwienski may not be much longer, but the deal is one that gives him financial stability and gives the Vikings a solid cap number to work from.

Under the terms of the contract, the signing bonus is spread through the life of the contract, meaning the Vikings will only be on the hook for $300,000 a year in signing bonus money and, in the first couple of years of the contract, Liwienski will be paid near league minimum to make his cap number around $500,000. As expected, the contract will likely run more in the order of five years, whereafter the Vikings can release Liwienski or work out a new deal, since much of the money is backloaded to make the final years cost prohibitive.

* The Liwienski signing has been a bit overshadowed by other veterans who won't be with the team. Today is the first day that teams can release players to avoid March 1 contract hits and the Vikings expect to go through something of a purge, releasing veterans Ed McDaniel, Orlando Thomas, Stalin Colinet and Troy Walters. The Vikings have indicated that all of them will be released, but haven't said if they are interested in having any of them return at a lower price.
* VU has been told that Robert Griffith is going to submit a letter to the team similar to the one Cris Carter did this week to void the remainder of his contract. If he doesn't return, the only starters coming back from the 15-1 1998 team with the Vikings will be David Dixon and Randy Moss, who didn't become a full-time starter until midseason of his rookie year.
* Former Viking Jason Fisk is apparently going to test free agency. His agent and the Titans have been unable to reach a contract agreement to keep him in Tennessee.
* New Bucs coach Jon Gruden says he intends to keep Monte Kiffin on as his defensive coordinator and has targeted Vikings receivers coach Charlie Baggett for his staff. Gruden asked and received permission from the Vikings to talk to Baggett about an opening with the Bucs.
* The deadline for naming franchise players is in the final hours and the Vikings once again are not expected to use the franchise designation.

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