First Bates, Now Pathon?

First it was D'Wayne Bates. Now it looks like Jerome Pathon is going to be snagged away from the Vikings' grasp.

The Vikings thought they had D'Wayne Bates locked in as a No. 3 receiver and had high hopes on getting Jerome Pathon to battle with Bates for a starting job.

Now it looks like they may get neither.

A source with the Saints told VU Friday that, while no deal is immediately imminent, the Saints and Pathon are talking contract in terms of specifics, not offers and counteroffers.

From what we're hearing, the Saints have a four-year, $10.5 million deal on the table. However, the sticking point is that Saints are concerned about the health of Pathon's surgically repaired foot, so the team is offering him just $500,000 in signing bonus money and a first-year deal worth just over $1 million. The rationale is that, if Pathon's foot doesn't respond, he can be released with little to no cap ramifications.

Pathon and his people are looking for more of a commitment than a high-end, low-start to a contract. So, as it stands now, the two sides aren't reaching an agreement. However, if the signing bonus and first-year numbers get goosed a little, the Vikings will find themselves on the outside of another contract negotiation.

* The Vikings didn't make a waiver claim to D'Wayne Bates, but are expected to Monday. The team stands seventh in line to acquire Bates, but one potential suitor appears to have dropped out of the running. The Houston Texans are a little concerned about picking up the $1.1 million first-year portion of the deal, so they will likely pass on matching the offer. However, the Buffalo Bills are said to be mulling their options and, with the fourth spot to claim a waived player, they may jump ahead of the Vikes to make the deal. The league won't announce what team with the highest order in the league made a claim on Bates.
* For his part, Bates is trying to dissuade other teams from claiming him. Through his agent he said he only wants to go to Minnesota and "just wouldn't be happy any other place" -- high praise indeed for the Vikings.
* HBO continues to float the idea that if Cris Carter doesn't find a place to play this season, he has a spot with the "Inside the NFL" program. Although the network has spent a lot of money to lure Bob Costas, there is still an opening and apparently the network brass liked what it saw from Carter's interview last week.
* Player personnel guru Frank Gilliam said the Vikings are content to stay at No. 7 in the first round and that any trade offer would have to be very tempting. While not addressing it directly, word around Winter Park is that if Oakland offers both of their first-round picks (Nos. 21 and 23 overall) that would fit in the category of "very tempting."

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