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Tice FA Magic Continues

Call it the Tice Magic. He's adroit at giving the "don't let the door hit you on the way out" speech and, as proved again Friday, he's finding it effective.<br>

Mike Tice is an imposing figure. At closer to seven feet tall than six feet tall, he can intimidate people when he chooses to. From the looks of things, that includes current NFL players.

As reported earlier by VU, Tice has shown his willingness to play hard ball with free agents -- both outside free agents like DE Lorenzo Bromell and in-house talent like TE Byron Chamberlain.

When Tice blew out the Antonio Freeman smoke screen Thursday, it was clear that there was one motive in sight -- get Derrick Alexander to commit or get out. Tice's way or the highway.

Alexander accepted the former, agreeing to a three-year, $5.1 million deal with the Vikings that, according to an early leak, includes a signing bonus of close to $1 million -- when asked if more or less the conversation stopped, but close to $1 million was nodded as in the ballpark.

The Alexander signing is in keeping with almost every free agent move the Vikings have made in the offseason. If the players live up to expectations, they deserve the money they're being paid. If not, they can be released with minimal implications to the Vikes. The team is obviously looking to move forward and not see 2002 as a rebuilding year, but, like teams that took away Robert Griffith, Kailee Wong and Dale Carter, the Vikings aren't going to break the bank to get done what they need to. Period. It's Tice's way or the highway.

* VU has been told what may have broken the logjam on talks with Alexander was Keenan McCardell. After indicating he wanted to stay in Florida, Alexander's main bargaining chip -- the Bucs -- was taken out of play. Had McCardell signed with Kansas City, the Vikes may have lost out on Alexander, since the Bucs were willing to pay McCardell $10 million over four years with a $2 million signing bonus and a guarantee of $4 million in payments -- even if he's cut in training camp (impossible now). With the Vikes and Alexander aware that the Chiefs were out of play, the deal came through quickly, for much less than McCardell would have cost.
* VU has been told Alexander will be at Winter Park today and taking part in practice.
* Minicamp took on a new look Friday. Past minicamps have typically been players, coaches and a moderate number of media types getting quotes, like VU does. Friday, there was a hospitality tent out, a set of bleachers up and schmoozing going on with corporate sponsors and state legislators. The new look Vikes are truly new look -- on the field and off.
* TE O.J. Santiago is scheduled for a visit next week. Oft-deactivated TE Matt Cercone is slowed with a calf injury and VU has been told Tice is far from impressed with Johnny McWilliams, leaving the real potential for Santiago to hook on with the Vikes.
* In other futures news, the team has scheduled visits with DL Jim Flanigan, a veteran familiar to Vikes fans from his years with the Bears and Packers, and Cedric Killings, who saw considerable action while playing with the 49ers.
* As VU has previously reported, RB James Wofford has made an impact. Friday Tice called him the "best pure running back on the team." Considering what we're learning about Tice, this may be a sign he's trying to light a fire under Michael Bennett to live up to his No. 1 draft status.
* Randy Moss, who has been praised left and right this offseason for his ascending to a leadership role, compared Scott Linehan to former Vikings OC Brian Billick. When pressed to elaborate, he likes his attack style offense and summed it all up pretty simply by saying he likes Linehan and what he's doing. For Moss, high praise indeed.

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