Poison Pill, Anyone?

The Vikings' pursuit of Steve Hutchinson is taking things to new heights of planting poison pills.

The Vikings clearly want to land Steve Hutchinson. Not only have they given him an offer sheet that will make him the highest paid guard in NFL history, they've made it virtually impossible for the Seahawks to match the deal...or pay dearly if they do.

The contract the Vikings signed Hutchinson to has a pair of surprising stipulations. The first is how the money is disbursed. Due to a roster bonus instead of the standard signing bonus, Hutchinson will count an enormous $13 million against the 2006 salary -- a short-term burden the Seahawks may not want to match.

But an even bigger poison pill comes in the form of contract language that says if Hutchinson isn't the highest paid member of his team's offensive line at any time during the remainder of the contract after this year, the entire $49 million is guaranteed. The Vikings can easily afford that offer, since they don't have anyone that would exceed Hutchinson's price tag (the closest would be a new contract for Bryant McKinnie). The Seahawks have left tackle Walter Jones, whose contract exceeds that of Hutchinson's already.

What does that mean? If Seattle matches the offer sheet they will either have to guarantee all seven years, pay Hutchinson even more than the $49 million the Vikes are offering or release Jones. None of those options looks especially rosy, so don't be stunned if the Seahawks begrudgingly let Hutchinson leave -- thanks to the Vikings and a poisonous little pill.

* Talks between the Dolphins and Drew Brees broke off Monday, adding speculation that a deal for Daunte Culpepper could get done soon with Miami. However, Brees and the Dolphins were expected to resume talks today.
* The Bengals signed Bucs safety Dexter Jackson to a four-year, $7.6 million deal Monday. Jackson was set to visit the Vikings. Ravens safety Will Demps is at Winter Park today.
* Packers backup QB Craig Nall visited Winter Park Monday.
* Former Vikings kicker Jose Cortez signed with the Colts Monday.
* It looks that, because of the delay in the start of free agency, Culpepper isn't due his $6 million roster bonus until March 24.
* Guard Toniu Fonoti is close to sealing a deal with the Raiders.

Viking Update Top Stories