Hutchinson Downplays Homecoming

Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson let reporters know Monday that he wasn't going to discuss his "Poison Pill" contract that brought him from Seattle to Minnesota and downplayed his return to Seattle on Sunday.

Steve Hutchinson's return to Seattle might be the main storyline this week as the Vikings get ready to play the Seahawks on Sunday, but the highly paid left guard made it clear Monday he has no interest in being a main focus.

"This team is going to Seattle, trying to be 4-2 after this week," Hutchinson said of the Vikings. "Obviously I know those guys and those coaches on that team. I played there for five years. That's about the extent of (how much) I'm going to talk about myself."

Hutchinson's departure from Seattle was one of the main stories in the NFL this offseason and helped introduce the term "Poison Pill" into the league's lexicon.

A quick refresher on what happened: The Seahawks surprised many by putting the less-restrictive transition tag on the Pro Bowl guard. The Vikings saw an opportunity and signed Hutchinson to a seven-year, $49 million offer sheet that contained $16 million in guaranteed money.

The contract also contained a provision, or so called "Poison Pill," that said Hutchinson must have the highest average annual salary of any offensive lineman on his team in 2006. No Vikings lineman would average more than Hutchinson, but Minnesota knew that Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones averaged $7.5 million.

Seattle challenged the contract language but a special master ruled in the Vikings' favor. Shortly thereafter, the Seahawks signed Vikings restricted free-agent receiver Nate Burelson to a seven-year, $49 million offer sheet that was structured much differently but also was filled with "poison pills."

The Seahawks were not only livid about what the Vikings had done with Hutchinson but also were upset Minnesota would not take a third-round pick in a trade for Burleson. The Vikings wanted a second-round selection.

The NFL found nothing funny about any of this — although it appears the "Poison Pill" loophole might not be closed — and apparently Hutchinson is equally as tired of this topic.

"There are 52 other guys on this team and it's not about Steve Hutchinson against the Seahawks," he said when asked why he didn't want to talk about himself. "It's an NFC team, it's a conference team, they are ahead of us record wise, so we've got to try ... end of the year you want to have one of the best records so you can get in the playoffs. So that's where we stand on that."

NOTES

  • Coach Brad Childress is expected to use newly signed receiver Bethel Johnson as his main kick-return man. However, Childress is not closing the door on having Johnson in more than one return role. "He also has the ability to return punts, although that's not something that he did all of the time in New England," Childress said. "I think he has rare explosion as an athlete. ... I think he is an excellent athlete."

  • Johnson, who spent his first three seasons with the Patriots before being traded to New Orleans during the offseason, wants to be seen as more than a return man. "I think in my previous opportunities people slighted me and just thought I was a returner," said Johnson, who was released by New Orleans after injuring his MCL in a preseason game. "But I was drafted as a wide receiver and I always felt that I was a receiver that can return the football. It wasn't (I was) a returner that played wide receiver."

  • QB Tarvaris Jackson appears to be completely recovered after having arthroscopic surgery last month to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Jackson will be the Vikings' third quarterback Sunday at Seattle.

  • RB Ciatrick Fason appears to be caught in a numbers game. Coach Brad Childress hasn't had Fason active since the season opener at Washington. Part of the reason is because running back Artose Pinner has done such a good job on special teams.

  • G Anthony Herrera has been inactive for the past four games. Last season, Herrera played in 10 games and started the final six games at left guard. That position is now manned by Steve Hutchinson.

  • RB Chester Taylor is ranked 11th in the NFL in rushing, having gained 421 yards on 111 carries for an average of 3.8 yards per attempt.

  • QB Brad Johnson's 78.3 quarterback rating puts him 22nd in the NFL, just ahead of former teammate and current Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper (77.0).


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