Irvin Restructures Deal

A year ago, the Vikings had an upset backup cornerback and said "our way or the highway." A year later, the team is whistling a different tune -- with a guy deeper on the depth chart than the last contestant on "Who'll Blink First?"

Disgruntled Vikings CB Ken Irvin is less disgruntled today – agreeing to a restructured contract that, if his ruptured right Achilles doesn't flare up again, will pay him $1 million for 2005.

Irvin was slated to make $1.5 million this year, but the signing of CB Fred Smoot and S Darren Sharper left Irvin with two viable options if everyone is healthy – fourth corner or third safety.

A similar scenario happened a year ago when Denard Walker was not only replaced in the starting lineup by Antoine Winfield, but essentially told he would be competing more with Rushen Jones than he would Brian Williams. Within days we learned the name of Walker's agent and the story he had to tell. At that time, Mike Tice had a "take or leave it" policy and allowed Walker to leave town without compensation – seeing as what Phillip Buchanon fetched on the open market, perhaps not the wisest move.

The signing of Irvin is important in two respects. First, it shows the Vikings have softened on the "take it or shove it" proposals. Second, it shows that players will accept a role on this version of the Vikings in the belief that a role player on a very good team is better than being a nickel back on a .500 team while hoping for an injury.

MONDAY NOTES
* With the close of minicamp Sunday, the Vikings are off the practice field until May 16 – the first day of a series of developmental camps over the next month.
* Tice indicated Sunday he wants DT Kevin Williams to lose some weight between now and training camp – hoping that if he is closer to 300 pounds than his published weight of 311, he can be a fraction of a second quicker off the snap. The move, from what VU is being told, was predicated on the signing of nose tackle Pat Williams and drafting of DE Erasmus James.
* Marcus Johnson continued to work at right tackle Sunday at minicamp, fueling speculation that he may be more liable to compete with Mike Rosenthal in training camp than Adam Goldberg at left guard.
* In the last four years, 13 of the NFL's 32 teams have drafted a quarterback in the first round – with the Redskins trying it twice. In the same span, 10 running backs have been taken on the first round.
* Cornerback was king of the 2005 draft with 31 players listed at that position taken over draft weekend. It tied wide receiver for the top number of selections, but 31 wideouts was the least number taken in the draft in the last five years, while 31 corners is the highest total since the draft was reduced to seven rounds.
* Of the 31 corners taken, they were selected by just 20 teams. The Broncos used their first three selections on CBs, while the Colts and Raiders used their first two picks on the position and Denny Green used two of his top three there. On the other end of the spectrum, the Bucs were one of 12 teams that didn't take a cornerback – and they had 12 picks.

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