Talks Begin With Burleson

The Vikings return to practice today with their sights set on Carolina. But behind the scenes, the team is looking at one player far beyond this week.

It's rare when the Vikings or any NFL team for that matter discuss player contracts during the season. The excuse typically given is that it causes a distraction.

Well, considering the distractions that have surrounded the Vikings this season, what would make contract talks be any different? VU has been told that the Vikings have begun negotiations with wide receiver Nate Burleson on a new contract that would keep him with the Vikings for several years.

The talks are preliminary at this point, but the word is that both sides are expecting to try to work out a four- or five-year deal that would include a substantial signing bonus in the $5-8 million range.

When Randy Moss was traded, Burleson became the No. 1 wide receiver on the Vikings depth chart, but when he signed his original rookie contract, there wasn't nearly the confidence that the team has in him now. His rookie deal was a three-year contract that is set to expire at the end of the season.

While Burleson would be a restricted free agent following the season, meaning that if any team attempted to sign him the Vikings could match the offer or receive compensation if he was to leave, there is the very real possibility that several teams would be interested in a young receiver with a good attitude like Burleson has displayed.

The team's concern that someone else may frontload a contract that could be damaging to the team's current salary cap comfort is legitimate. Teams have done that in the past to force the hand of a team, and it wouldn't be surprising if teams like the Packers or Bears would try something like that to cripple a division rival -- we hope at least that the Lions are finally satisfied with their wide receivers after taking three in the first round of the last three drafts.

VU has been told that there is a long way to go to get a deal struck, but that both sides are confident that the deal will get made and the Burleson will remain with the Vikings -- now and in the future.

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