Vikings Low-Ball Burleson

The Vikings had five wide receivers that were viewed as co-starters last year. But the team has gambled that other teams won't be willing to jump on Nate Burleson.

When the Vikings traded Randy Moss, the ascent of Nate Burleson was expected. Burleson, who was coming off a 1,000-yard season, was given help with the signing of veterans Travis Taylor and Koren Robinson, but Burleson was expected to be the top dog of the receiver corps.

That plan, it would appear, has changed. The Vikings announced Thursday that Burleson, a restricted free agent, was given the minimum qualifying offer of $712,000. If a team signs Burleson to an offer sheet and the Vikings don't match, the new team would only have to give up a third-round draft pick as compensation -- the same round in which the Vikings originally drafted Burleson.

While there is still talk that the Vikings will look to sign Burleson to a long-term contract, had the team made a qualifying offer of $1.5 million, they could have effectively taken Burleson off the market, since it would have required a first-round pick as compensation.

FRIDAY NOTES
* The Daunte Culpepper rumors have begun again. Reports coming out Thursday indicated the Vikings are once again in talks with teams about Culpepper's availability -- citing differences with new coach Brad Childress as to why the team is willing to part with their former Pro Bowl quarterback.
* Why did the Vikings put a transition tag on CB Brian Williams? They could afford to. The cost of putting a tag on cornerbacks dropped more than any other position in the league in 2006 compared against 2005. In 2005, if the Vikings had wanted to put a franchise tag on Williams, it would have cost $8.82 million -- with a transition tag running $6.94 million. By doing it this year, the Vikings are only on the hook for $4.77 million -- a drop of $2.2 million of the average of the top 10 salaries. Had the team put the franchise tag on him, it would have cost $5.893 million -- a drop of almost $3 million from 2005.
* In its free agency preview, The Sporting News listed the Vikings as one of the top three potential suitors of 49ers linebacker Julian Peterson, No. 2 for those teams in the running for Eagles tackle Jon Runyan and the No. 1 choice for RB Edgerrin James.
* The Patriots are rumored to be interested in both Sam Cowart and Burleson.
* The Colts, who are expected to not be able to afford to keep Mike Vanderjagt as their kicker, have Paul Edinger on their short list of potential replacements.
* The Chiefs are expected to make a run at pass-rushing DE Lance Johnstone.
* The Cardinals might be the Vikings' top competition for guard Toniu Fonoti, who is among the top available guard free agents in the weak Class of 2006.
* Both the Rams and Packers are expected to make a run at trying to sign Brian Williams away from the Vikings.

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