The Vikings under Mike Tice have made something of a name for themselves with their tough talk. Whether it be a take-or-leave-it contract offer or a refusal to budge on prices to be spent in free agency, the Vikings have made a reputation for being tough negotiators and, in the end, getting what they want.
That resolve may be tested by Jim Steiner, the agent for Bryant McKinnie. No stranger to bad holdouts, Steiner advised DE Justin Smith to hold out in contract talks with Cincinnati last year -- a deadlock that lasted almost two months from the time camp opened for the Bengals.
It looks like the same may be true with McKinnie and the Vikings. While the Vikings aren't talking publicly, VU has confirmed both from the Vikings side and McKinnie's side that the latest offer made by the team -- and rejected by Steiner -- carried the tag "final offer" with it.
At issue are conflicting beliefs. On the Vikings side, they believe the contract structure of a deal signed by DE Andre Carter, which gave him almost $8 million (70 percent of his contract up front in guaranteed money) was out of line with contracts signed by other rookies. That feeling has carried over and the Vikings don't want to use the No. 7 slot from last year as a barometer for deals this year, saying that the league's rookie pool doesn't leave a lot of room for overpaying rookies.
For their part, McKinnie's agents still seemed genuinely miffed that he lasted until No. 7 and feel he should be paid money equal to that of Bills OT Mike Williams -- taken with the fourth pick.
What does this mean? Until one side blinks, there is no reason to think McKinnie will get in camp any time soon and both sides might dig out of pride more than any other factor and a protracted holdout that began in July could carry through much or possibly even all of August.
* The Vikings held the first of two days of scrimmages with the Chiefs Friday and the consensus of most of us that saw the practices was that the Vikings defense looks much better than the group that got battered last season.
* There was one substantial skirmish in the practices, which featured plenty of big hits. Vikings TE Hunter Goodwin got into a fight with Chiefs OL Eric Hicks and Goodwin got in a couple of good shots before players from both teams broke up the brawl.
* With Atlanta signing RB T.J. Duckett Friday, only three other first-rounders besides McKinnie -- Quentin Jammer (No. 5), Ryan Sims (No. 6) and Wendell Bryant (No. 12) -- remain unsigned.
* Remember when VU told you Mike Tice didn't sound happy about Tyrone Carter dictating his wish to coaches to be a strong safety? He's not and it shows. Carter was demoted to No. 3 on the SS depth chart behind rookie Willie Offord and now Brian Russell. Unless he finds a way to make an impression, Carter could be on the bubble when the final cuts are made later this month.
* Former Viking Jim Marshall underwent nine hours of surgery to remove a growth at the top of his spine. Marshall, who has been fighting cancer for more than a year, is expected to recover from this latest delicate surgery.
McKinnie Holdout At Impasse
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