Arbitrator To Rule Today

The Vikings will find out today if the clauses included in Steve Hutchinson's precedent-setting contract stand up.

The contract that the Vikings presented to transitional free agent guard Steve Hutchinson will be official today -- one way or another.

Special Master Stephen Burbank will hear the case this morning to determine if what are being called "poison pills" in the contract are necessary for the Seahawks to match.

This is a case that will once again pit owners and the players association, with the result having wide-ranging ramifications.

Despite some spending by the Seahawks in the last few days, VU has been told that, if the stipulations about guaranteed money are removed from the offer sheet -- effectively saying that the Seahawks agree to the seven-year, $49 million deal with $13 million counting against the 2003 salary cap -- Seattle could agree to match the deal. If Burbank sides with the players association (meaning the Vikings), it will likely be a deal-breaker and a press conference will be held at Winter Park to announce the latest free agent acquisition.

There are two distinct and varied points of view concerning the contract the Vikings offered Hutchinson. But, even if Burbank sides with the Vikings, the future of offer sheets will likely become a sticking point between ownership and the union.

* The Vikings lost out on Packers quarterback Craig Nall, who is expected to finalize a free agent contract with the Bills today. The Vikings had looked at Nall as being the primary backup to Brad Johnson this season
* A player the Vikings had no interest in -- wide receiver Terrell Owens -- signed a three-year deal with the Cowboys over the weekend. Owens, who fell out of favor with the Eagles last year, butted heads with new Vikings head coach Brad Childress when he was offensive coordinator for the Eagles -- allegedly telling Childress not to talk to Owens "unless he was spoken to." Clearly, the Vikings were never in the T.O. sweepstakes.

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