How Safe Is Tice's Job?

With new owner Zygi Wilf expected to take over the reins in the next week or two and much of the Vikings staff under contract for only the 2005 season, there are many questions seeking answers. Prime among them is if Wilf will extend Mike Tice's contract, or when a decision will be made.

Don't be surprised if one of Zygi Wilf's first moves as new Vikings owner is to extend the contract of Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski.

Brzezinski, one of the more respected young executives in the league, is in the final year of his contract. He has had offers to leave the Vikings and would be an attractive free agent if not signed to a long-term deal.

Extending Brzezinski's contract could set up an interesting dynamic within the organization if Wilf doesn't also extend the contract of head coach Mike Tice. Tice, who is the lowest-paid head coach in the league at $1 million, and his assistants are in the final year of their contracts.

It's uncertain whether Wilf will commit to Tice long-term immediately or wait for him to prove himself in 2005. Tice led the Vikings to the playoffs and a wild-card victory at Green Bay in 2004, but he also let the past two division titles slip away, and was involved in an embarrassing Super Bowl ticket-scalping scandal this offseason.

Tice said he isn't concerned about his contract status. He said he welcomes Wilf's evaluation of the team's management-by-consensus approach.

"I don't want to speculate on contract extensions or any of that stuff," Tice said. "If anything, there is going to be an initial feeling-out process. This is a very successful man that certainly knows how to run businesses. He's going to come in and evaluate.

"What's his timeline? I don't know. A week? A year? That's up to Mr. Wilf, not Mike Tice." Wilf's $600 million purchase from Red McCombs is expected to close in the middle of June.


  • Steve Loney is still trying to adjust to his new role as offensive coordinator without letting it affect his job as offensive line coach. "It is different because now I'm watching all 11 positions, but still have to handle those five," Loney said. "During practice I try to create the tempo and the discipline of the offense, and coach the offensive line during practice and then in meetings. That's where I can make my mark on this offense."

  • The Vikings, especially coach Mike Tice, aren't known for being kicker-friendly. Last summer, they tried to improve in that area when they brought in renowned kicking specialist Doug Blevins for training camp. It backfired when kicker Aaron Elling lost his confidence and ultimately his roster spot following a horrendous preseason game against the 49ers.

    "When I hit a wall and couldn't get out of it, Doug was telling me stuff, (special teams coach) Rusty Tillman was telling me stuff, Coach Tice was telling me stuff," Elling said. "Everyone had their two cents. It was just chaotic."

    Elling returned to the team as a kickoff specialist until breaking his leg midway through the season. He is competing with Paul Edinger for the kicking job this season.

  • Safety Corey Chavous and nickel back Brian Williams are missing their third consecutive developmental camp this week. Chavous is unhappy with his contract, which pays him $1.9 million in base salary in its final season. Williams, who signed a one-year, $1.43 million tender as a restricted free agent, remains upset that the team signed Fred Smoot to take his starting position at right cornerback. The Vikings bringing in former Bears cornerback R.W. McQuarters for a workout probably is a scare tactic aimed at Brian Williams.

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