The Vikings had gone 0-for-3 in their master plan for retaining free agents in the offseason, losing Robert Griffith, Kailee Wong and Dale Carter in the first week of free agency.
But, when the chips were down and the cards started flipping over, the Vikings and tight end Byron Chamberlain agreed to a five-year deal Tuesday night, which VU is being told is worth $8 million with $1.7 million as a signing bonus.
The contract is very similar to the deal the team had threatened to take off the table when Chamberlain visited Detroit, but, in the end, he said he wanted to come back to the Vikings because "this was the team that gave me a chance."
During his career in Denver, Chamberlain began as a role player behind Shannon Sharpe -- now rumored to be heading back to Denver -- and, once Sharpe left for Baltimore, Chamberlain shared time in a three-man platoon with Desmond Clark and Dwayne Carswell.
Once coming to the Vikings, he had a chance to show his worth and responded with more than 50 receptions for the first time in his career and became one of the most-used tight ends in the league.
However, the breaking point in the negotiations may have come Monday when the Vikings began plans to bring in free agent Ken Dilger for a workout. That, combined with Chamberlain's wish to stay in Minnesota, helped to get the two sides back to the bargaining table and the deal got done quickly -- giving the Vikings at least one player they wanted to keep coming back for the 2002 season.
* Cris Carter is back on the front burner in Miami -- one of the few teams that still seems willing to make a deal with him. With new agent Fletcher Smith at the center of the talks, VU is being told that the Dolphins aren't offering nearly what Carter had wanted for a two-year deal when he first spoke with the team and coach Dave Wannstedt has been non-commital about the team's willingness to offer him a contract, although word coming out of Miami is sounding like a deal could get done relatively soon. The Dolphins won't have a first-round pick in this year's draft because of the trade for RB Ricky Williams, so immediate help on offense may have to come through free agency.
* Contrary to some published reports, the Vikings likely won't meet the contract demands of Germane Crowell, who is said to be looking for $3 million a year and $4 million in a signing bonus. Due in part to his injury history, the Vikings likely won't put that kind of up-front money into a package, but the team hasn't completely shut the door on that subject.
* Indianapolis claimed former Viking kick returner Troy Walters off waivers Tuesday.
* At the NFL owners meetings, it was decided not to change the current on-side kick rule, meaning if the kicking team kicks the ball out of bounds without either team getting possession, the kicking team will get penalized 5 yards and have another chance. The proposal before the competition committee was to give a team one shot only to recover an on-side kick.
* The NFL will announce the compensatory picks given to teams for next month's draft -- now one month away -- sometime next week. The Vikings likely won't get a bonanza in the deal because, despite losing starters Dwayne Rudd and Tony Williams to free agency in 2001, the league won't consider the losses of Todd Steussie or John Randle, who were released and not lost as free agents.
Chamberlain Re-Signs With Vikings
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