Steve Hutchinson has started all 68 games in which he has played in his five-year NFL career, but in 2006 he will be starting with a new team — the Minnesota Vikings.
The Seattle Seahawks declined to match the Vikings' seven-year, $49 million offer sheet to Hutchinson Monday night after a special master ruled earlier in the day that the Seahawks couldn't match the offer without making him the team's highest paid offensive lineman, a principle part of the Vikings' offer sheet.
Hutchinson's contract will not only make him the Vikings' highest paid offensive lineman, but it includes $16 million in guarantees and is thought to contain a $13 million cap hit in 2006, making it difficult for the Vikings to sign many more free agents.
The decision went down to the wire, but when it was reported at 11 p.m. that the Seahawks had signed linebacker Julian Peterson to a seven-year, $54 million deal with $18.5 million in guarantees, it pretty much sealed their decision to not match on the Hutchinson offer.
That gives the Vikings a 6-foot-5, 313-pounder that started his pro career as the 17th overall pick in the 2001 draft out of Michigan. Hutchinson was the second first-round selection of the Seahawks, with the ninth overall pick being wide receiver Koren Robinson, who is also with the Vikings now and recently agreed to a three-year deal.
Combined with tackle Walter Jones in Seattle, the duo formed one of the best left sides in football. Now, with Pro Bowl center Matt Birk expected to return to form in 2006 and left tackle Bryant McKinnie on his other side, Hutchinson could be starting the "new best left side" in the NFC.
In Seattle, Hutchinson was an integral part in helping running back Shaun Alexander become the record-setting MVP of the league in 2005 as the Seahawks made their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. In 2004, Alexander had 1,696 yards and 20 touchdowns.
At Michigan, Hutchinson was a four-year letter winner that started 46 of 47 career games played and was a captain his junior and senior seasons. He was only the second player in Michigan history to be named to first-team All-Big Ten Conference player honors four times, and he gained first-team All-America honors his junior and senior seasons. He was also a Lombardi Award finalist, given to the nation's top interior lineman.
Vikings Get Hutchinson
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