Big Cap Room Doesn't Equal Frivolous Spending

The Vikings have an estimated $24 million under the salary cap, but they still plan to be wise with the way they use all that room.

Ready, set ...

The Vikings were one of the few NFL teams in excellent salary-cap shape as the free agency period approached, sitting a league-best $24 million under the expected $95 million cap. (That figure could go higher if a new labor agreement is reached.)

As such, the Vikings are in an ideal position to call the shots, with their new "Triangle of Authority" making decisions.

That trio, which includes coach Brad Childress, vice president of player personnel Fran Foley and vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski, already showed what an advantage it is to have money when they decided to place the lowest qualifying offer possible on receiver Nate Burleson.

Burleson, 24, entered the 2005 season as the Vikings' No. 1 receiver, but a variety of injuries limited him to 30 receptions and one touchdown. As a result, Burleson received a tender that is worth $712,000 and would give the Vikings a draft pick equal to the round in which he was selected (third) if he goes elsewhere.

The Vikings would have seven days to match any offer Burleson receives; if Burleson bolts, the Vikings are in position to dip into free agency to find another receiver.

Meanwhile, the Vikings continue to negotiate with the agent for receiver Koren Robinson, who is an unrestricted free agent in designation only. When the Vikings took a chance on Robinson last summer - a move that paid off big - a clause was placed in his contract enabling the team to match any offer he received.

Despite all the cap room, and a willingness by owner Zygi Wilf to spend that money, don't expect the Vikings to go on a wild spending spree just for the sake of it.

"A lot of people have a tendency to overspend in free agency," Foley said. "We're going to get, hopefully, a chance to attract some individuals to visit us and maybe to sign with us. But we're not going to jeopardize overpaying for players that will later put us in a financial situation that we can't get out of later."


  • The Vikings are looking at restructuring the contracts of offensive linemen Matt Birk, Chris Liwienski and Mike Rosenthal. Birk's agent, Joe Linta, has made it clear on several occasions that his client won't accept a pay cut after sitting out last season following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. "We are listening to some trade-off proposals where Matt gets something and they get something," said Linta, who added the Vikings are concerned about Birk's hip.

  • The Vikings have set the dates for their first two minicamps under new coach Brad Childress. A veterans camp will be held April 7-9, three weeks before the NFL draft. A second will be held May 12-14.

  • Rumors continue to swirl that the Vikings are shopping injured quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Owner Zygi Wilf, however, has said he plans to pay Culpepper a $6 million roster bonus he is due on March 17.

  • One free agent the Vikings have their eye on is veteran Saints offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley. Bentley could start at guard but would be able to move to center if Birk's hip causes him problems. Reports, however, indicate that Philadelphia is Bentley's first choice.

  • The Vikings signed guard Adam Goldberg to an exclusive-rights tender for a third-year player.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "You have to understand something. Right now is the Combine, everything is very sensitive, everything is very important that we keep that low-key. ... Being a first-year owner, I realize it's very important to keep things during the Combine and draft close to the vest. It's a matter of gamesmanship in terms of how you approach the draft, how you approach free agency and how you approach your own players." - Vikings owner Zygi Wilf on not revealing too much information.


    TRANSITION PLAYER: CB Brian Williams.

    UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Michael Bennett; CB Ralph Brown; S Corey Chavous; LB Sam Cowart; PK Paul Edinger; OG Toniu Fonoti; C Melvin Fowler; QB Shaun Hill; DE Lance Johnstone; LB Keith Newman; S Willie Offord; WR Koren Robinson; LB Raonall Smith; RB Moe Williams; C Cory Withrow.



    PLAYERS ACQUIRED: G/C Jason Whittle, CB Ronyell Whitaker, FB Joey Goodspeed.

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