Hutch In, Tony Next?

The Vikings running game got a huge boost Monday with the addition of guard Steve Hutchinson. But the team may not be done yet. Chiefs fullback Tony Richardson has a deal in place if he wants to take it and if it still applies after the Hutchinson signing.

Before Steve Hutchinson was in the house, the Vikings were looking to fill what they view as the remaining holes in the free agency puzzle. Among them is fullback Tony Richardson, who paved the way for RBs like Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson to post Pro Bowl numbers for the Chiefs.

A decision, at Richardson's behest, will wait until today.

"We have a contract on the table," Richardson said. "One thing I asked was to be able to go home and absorb everything."

With the Vikings tighter against the salary cap, it's uncertain if the offer will remain on the table. Richardson is the second big-time fullback to be wined and dined by the Vikings. Last week, the Vikings came close to signing Packers fullback William Henderson, who opted to re-sign with the Pack.

The signing of Richardson, in concert with the acquisition of Hutchinson, could make the Vikings run offense one of the more dangerous units in the NFC.

TUESDAY NOTES
* NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that he intends to resign as the league's top dog. In an era where commissioners of major sports are the butt of jokes – mild jokes for the NBA's David Stern and NHL's Gary Bettman and full-out revulsion for Major League Baseball's Bud Selig – Tagliabue has been a role model for what a commissioner of a major sport should be. He took over the job in 1989, with the league still reeling from the infamous "Scab Game" trifecta in 1987. He leaves with the league in unprecedented financial security with labor peace for the next several years. Both the NFL and its fans owe Tagliabue a debt of gratitude. He's leaving the game in a far superior condition compared to when he took over.
* Brad Childress addressed the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday and found a parallel between Daunte Culpepper and Terrell Owens – who had a falling out with Childress last year with the Eagles, saying, "I went through a big ‘me' situation last year with a guy who was all about ‘me.' Quite frankly, I really don't believe Daunte wanted to be here anymore. I think he's probably better served where he's at."
* The Vikings began their off-season workout program Monday. Estimates are that 50 players will be participating in the conditioning program.
* Linebacker Sam Cowart visited the Texans training facility Monday.
* The Seahawks wasted little time in making their determination to cut ties with Hutchinson. Immediately after announcing they wouldn't match the Vikings offer, the team signed linebacker Julian Peterson of the 49ers to a lucrative contract that exceeded that of Hutchinson.
* The bottom line in the decision to approve the Vikings offer sheet to Hutchinson was the phrase "at the time of the offer" by special master Stephen Burbank. The move by the Seahawks to adjust tackle Walter Jones' contract came in response to the Vikings' "poison pill" in the Hutchinson contract. You can bet 30 other teams in the NFL have taken notice to what the Vikings did and will likely use that as precedent for future "right of first refusal" contracts.

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