Vikings Put Huge Offer on Table

The Vikings put in a mammoth offer for a dominant player, putting an exclamation point on a big weekend of free agent signings. The Vikings have already signed kicker Ryan Longwell, running back Chester Taylor and linebacker Ben Leber. Plus, find out who else is scheduled to visit and who might be getting away.

The Vikings' troubles on the offensive line last season were public and pronounced, leading to an incredible offer for one of the game's most dominant players at his position.

The Vikings have signed Seattle Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson to an offer sheet that, according to Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com, is for $49 million over seven years, including $16 million in guaranteed money. It's big money for a guard and frontloaded to discourage Seattle from matching the offer sheet.

It would make Hutchinson one of the game's highest paid offensive linemen and place him next to Pro Bowl center Matt Birk.

The Seahawks will have one week to match the offer, but after signing Shaun Alexander to an eight-year, $61.7 million deal, the Seahawks might not be in a position to match it.

Hutchinson was named to the Associated Press and Sporting News All-Pro teams for 2005 and was named to the Pro Bowl each of the last three years.

He was the 17th pick in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft, the second pick of the Seahawks that year behind current Vikings wide receiver Koren Robinson, who resigned with the Vikings late Friday night.

Hutchinson, a 6-foot-5, 313-pounder has started all 16 games for Seattle in four of his five seasons in the league, is entering the prime of his career, despite already achieving elite status at his position.

With Kansas City guard Will Shields reaching an agreement to re-sign with the Chiefs, Hutchinson was easily the top guard available in free agency, a five-star guard, according to scout.com, with all other guards garnering three stars or fewer. The Vikings were also prepared to lose guard Toniu Fonoti in free agency, although they made him an offer.

SAFETY UP NEXT?

The Vikings are set to talk with two safeties in the next few days.

Baltimore safety Will Demps is scheduled to meet with the Vikings, but there are other teams on his radar first, according to his agent, Anthony Agnone.

"He's supposed to be in there Tuesday. We'll see if he makes it that far," Agnone told Viking Update on Saturday.

Demps is meeting with Cincinnati on Sunday and the New York Giants on Monday.

He is entering his first year as an unrestricted free agent and has started more than half the games with Baltimore since 2002. He played in only 11 games in last year, recording 52 tackles and no interceptions, according to NFL.com. He has 234 tackles, 3.5 sacks and four interceptions in his four seasons with the Ravens.

Tampa Bay safety Dexter Jackson is also scheduled to meet with the Vikings, according to his agent, Peter Schaffer.

"He'll be there on Monday with a visit for Tuesday," said Schaffer.

Jackson is also scheduled to talk with Cincinnati and Tampa Bay.

Jackson, a former Super Bowl MVP in his first stint with Tampa Bay, has been in the league seven years—six with Tampa Bay and one season (2003) with the Arizona Cardinals. He has played in 89 games, registering 329 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 14 interceptions.

His familiarity with Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, the former defensive backs coach for the Bucs, would be considered helpful.

One of the top safeties in the open market went off the board when San Diego signed former Carolina Panther Marlon McCree to a five-year contract. He is a versatile defender who can play both strong and free safety. The 5-11, 202-pound McCree is entering his sixth NFL season. In 2005, he was the second-leading tackler as the starting strong safety on a Carolina Panthers squad that finished the regular season 11-5 and advanced to the NFC Championship game. His 2005 totals included 95 tackles, three interceptions and nine passes defensed.

NOTES

  • If the Vikings wanted to address outside linebacker in addition to Ben Leber, they will be doing it without former Carolina Panther Will Witherspoon, who signed a six-year contract with the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

  • Linebacker Bart Scott, who was reportedly interested in talking with the Vikings, was scheduled to meet with the Seahawks and possibly with the Arizona Cardinals. However, after meeting with Cleveland on Saturday, Scott left the Browns' training complex after agreeing in principle to a three-year contract with Baltimore. The deal is worth $13.5 million, including a $6.5 million signing bonus.

  • Former Vikings coach Dennis Green said people shouldn't expect the Arizona Cardinals, his current team, to make a "one-and-done" splash in free agency. But Sunday the Cardinals signed running back Edgerrin James to a four-year deal worth $30 million. The deal will pay James $14.5 million in the first year through salary, signing bonus and roster bonus, according to Glazer.

  • Other Vikings-Cardinals connections: Unrestricted free agent cornerback R.W. McQuarters, who visited with the Vikings last summer, has a visit set up with the Cardinals for Monday. If signed, he would compete for the nickel back position against former Viking Robert Tate. The team also has a visit setup with former Vikings cornerback Kenny Wright (late of the Jaguars), who would also be a candidate for the nickel position.

  • Former Vikings kicker Aaron Elling received a minimum tender offer from Baltimore.

  • Former Vikings safety Tyrone Carter, who played in Pittsburgh's dime defense in 2005, will get the first crack at replacing free agent Chris Hope unless the Steelers find one in the draft. Mike Logan is another possibility, but he'll be 32 this fall and is often injured, including a serious knee injury in the Super Bowl that required surgery. Logan was released last week but they plan to re-sign him.

    Syndicated content contributed to the notes portion of this report.

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