Jagged Little Pill

The Vikings and Seahawks have more than 100 players between them on their active rosters. But the focus of this week is likely going to be on two -- Steve Hutchinson and Nate Burleson.

When you think of rivalries in football, it's often a top wide receiver against an All-Pro cornerback or a great quarterback vs. a defensive coordinator out to make him look bad.

But a war of capologists? That's one of the overriding themes that will be at the center of the Vikings-Seahawks week leading up to Sunday's game.

When free agency began, the Vikings made a move at guard Steve Hutchinson -- signing him to a contract that included what many have called a "poison pill" provision. Under the deal, the Seahawks in order to match would have needed to make Hutchinson their highest paid offensive lineman in 2006 or have to guarantee his entire seven-year contract. Although the Seahawks toyed with the idea, they were unable to match -- but not before having the case heard by an arbitrator to see if the move was legal.

Seattle then countered by making a similar offer to Nate Burleson, putting in their own version of the poison pill, claiming that all of his contract would be guaranteed if he played more than five games at the Metrodome. As a result, he was sent packing and headed west.

While much will be made of the suit vs. suit battle that took place in the money-changing area of both organizations, the simple fact remains that neither scenario had to happen. Burleson had his qualifying offer for a one-year restricted free agent deal dropped from a first-round pick as compensation to a third-rounder before free agency began. For his part, Hutchinson never thought he would end up a Viking.

"I thought they would franchise me," Hutchinson told VU. "They had done it with Walter (Jones) the previous couple of years and I thought they were going to do the same with me until we could get a deal done. The fact is that we had almost two years to get a deal done. We didn't and that led to me coming here."

So, while the talk of animosity and payback may be making the headlines this week, the truth of the matter is that if the Vikings and Seahawks had really felt threatend to lose Hutchinson or Burleson, it could have been prevented.

WEDNESDAY NOTES
* The Vikings continue to get help from avoiding some of the league's top offensive stars. In the opener, Clinton Portis was used sparingly, Steve Smith was out for the Week 2 vs. the Panthers and Roy Williams was knocked out of the game in the first quarter vs. the Lions. With Shaun Alexander out, the Vikings will be looking for a fourth straight win against a team without its top offensive weapon.
* Koren Robinson heard the hammer fall Tuesday as he was officially suspended for a minimum of one year, effective Tuesday. He had hoped to be able to finish the season, but after being arrested for an outstanding warrant in Nicollet County prior to pleading not guilty in his drunk driving case, the NFL announced his one-year suspension. It was also noted at the NFL's website that the suspension is for a "minimum of one year." Despite that, according to a Packers website, he could apply for reinstatement as early as Sept. 17, 2007.
* Ciatrick Fason and Anthony Herrera have been healthy deactivations since Week 2 of the season.

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