McKinnie Offer "Off the Table"

The photo you see may be a collector's item -- Bryant McKinnie in a Vikings uniform. As his holdout enters a 28th day, things are getting uglier instead of better.

It's no big deal for VU to ask Vikings personnel about the status of the Bryant McKinnie negotiations. Sometimes we get answers. Sometimes we get shrugs.

Thursday, however, had the impression of someone drawing a line in the sand. Not only are the Vikings and the agents for McKinnie not closer to a deal, there have actually been whispers of a worst-case scenario, where the Vikings would retain his rights until the 2003 draft.

VU was told that the "final offer" made a couple of weeks ago -- five years, with more than $8 million up front -- has been "taken off the table." You can infer what that means.

McKinnie's agents -- again, make your own decisions -- are using two instances to support their belief that he should get more. The first was the No. 7 slot in last year's draft -- San Francisco DE Andre Carter. The 49ers upset several team officials for structuring a deal that was worth more guaranteed money than similar draftees around him. The other problem comes from Dallas.

While the Vikes are offering McKinnie slightly more than $8 million in a one-time payment, the Cowboys worked out a tiered contract with safety Roy Williams that will pay him $9.25 million in signing bonus money over the length of his contract. With both of those scenarios in place, McKinnie's agents have maintained that the market sets the price and that precedent has been set twice.

While the Vikings are still hopeful that McKinnie will sign soon, he's already looking at a minimum of being ready by the second or third game of the season and some have speculated to VU that, even if he were to sign tomorrow, he wouldn't be in line to start until after the bye week.

While we hope this can be resolved, the Vikings' longest recent holdout is becoming more of a headache every day.

FRIDAY NOTES
* Titans fans who were coming to the Metrodome to see their favorites may be out of luck. Not only will star defender Jevon Kearse and rookie DT Albert Haynesworth miss the game, VU has been told it will be unlikely that either Eddie George or Steve McNair will play. George is being used sparingly in meaningless games, while McNair underwent an MRI Wednesday. While the results were negative, he likely won't see any action tonight.
* When the Vikes released Robert Tate, the reason given for his early ouster was to give him a chance to hook on with another team. Enter Brian Billick and the Ravens. Baltimore signed Tate Thursday and he will be reunited with his former offensive coordinator. Tate came to the Vikings as a wide receiver and only due to injuries in the cornerback corps did he make the switch to defense. While still viewed as a cornerback, having Billick, who harnessed his abilities in practice that gave coaches the belief he could make the transition, mentoring him, Baltimore may be the best place Tate could have landed.
* Denny Green is going to be a part of Vikings fans NFL season after all. Starting this morning, when he sits in for Tony Bruno on ESPN Radio, Green will be a regular contributor to ESPN News, ESPN 2 and its "NFL 2Nite" program and ESPN Radio. If you hear a call from "Bob in Lakeville" this morning on ESPN, you'll know who's on the other end of the line.

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