Monday, Monday

The NFL has filed a grievance concerning the Vikings offer sheet to Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson. It will be heard Monday morning, extending the Sunday deadline for Seattle to match the offer or let Hutchinson cash in with the Vikings.

If you thought that Steve Hutchinson's arrival in Minnesota was going to be decided in seven days, guess again. The matter will be decided on Monday, as a special master determines whether the much-discussed poison pill put in the Vikings' offer sheet meets contract standards.

The arbitration hearing, scheduled for Monday morning in Philadelphia, will question whether the Seahawks merely have to match the "relative terms" of the contract – seven years, $49 million with $16 million in guaranteed money and $13 million vs. the 2006 salary cap – or the "principal terms" of the offer sheet. The latter involves being the highest paid offensive lineman with his team. Last April, the Seahawks signed left tackle Walter Jones to a seven-year, $52.5 million deal, which eclipses the Vikings offer to Hutchinson.

At the behest of the NFL, the case will be heard Monday by Stephen Burbank, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. The reason the Vikings organization isn't being taken to task over the issue is that the clauses in question were proposed by Hutchinson's agent Tom Condon – according to Seattle sources. The players association will argue in favor of the Vikings, citing precedent in 1993 when offensive lineman Will Wolford signed an offer sheet with the Colts. To show how far the NFL has come since then, the offer sheet was for three years and $7.65 million. Under the terms of the deal, it guaranteed that Wolford would be the highest-paid offensive player on the team. At the time, that was no problem for the Colts. But the Bills had QB Jim Kelly, who was earning twice that much. The NFL lost that case, which has NFLPA General Counsel Richard Berthelson convinced the Vikings will win.

For those expecting a final decision by Sunday, get used to the NFL of 2006 – it's going to be delayed.

* The Vikings lost out on fullback William Henderson. He went back to the Packers and word out of G.B. is that the Packers gave him as much as $3 million in bonus money to stay.
* Two days after failing a physical with the Raiders, former Vikings guard Toniu Fonoti signed on with Tampa Bay.
* Michael Bennett found employment Friday, signing a two-year deal with the Saints. The contract includes a $1 million signing bonus and provides for as much as $1 million a year more if he reaches contract incentives. Bennett comes into training camp behind starter Deuce McAllister, who was taken four picks in front of Bennett in the 2001 draft.

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