McKinnie: Offer a "Slap In the Face"

On a somber day for the nation, Bryant McKinnie has let Vikings fans know there is somber news on his contract front as well.

The Vikings knew they were going to have millions in additional salary cap space next year -- some estimates are to the tune of $20 million in cap room -- but they never figured that they could have even more from the pool expected to be used on Bryant McKinnie.

Two days after Red McCombs drew a line in the sand concerning the rookie's contract, McKinnie spoke out himself -- echoing many of the same sentiments McCombs had.

McKinnie said the Vikings' offer is a "slap in the face" and that the team and McCombs have "disrepected me." In addition, after McCombs said the Vikings might be willing to let their draft rights to McKinnie expire, he said Tuesday he may be willing to sit out and join the draft in 2003.

McKinnie made a valid point that the Vikings have continued to contend. When contract negotiations began, his agent looked at the deal signed by No. 7 pick Andre Carter a year ago. The Vikings, who have never had to deal with a top 10 pick in the era of free agency and megabuck rookie deals, claimed the Carter signing was an aberration and several teams were upset with how the 49ers upset the salary structure for rookies.

With the Vikings unwilling to take the Carter deal to the next level, both sides seemed content to see how the rest of the picks around McKinnie panned out. As it turned out, Ryan Sims and Roy Williams, the Nos. 6 and 8 picks respectively, both signed. Williams and Sims both received contracts with signing bonuses in excess of $9 million.

However, the Vikings pointed out that Williams signed a six-year deal and the package the Vikings were working on is a five-year contract, which makes his signing bonus invalid. If broken down by year, the Vikings offer to McKinnie would be higher than that given to Williams, but, with the parameters set, it seems that neither side is willing to budge or concede.

With McKinnie's holdout in its 47th day, it is beginning to look like it may never end. The Vikings, who believe that McKinnie's value has dropped since missing all of training camp, are unwilling to shell out the kind of money Dallas paid Williams. Meanwhile, McKinnie said to sign a contract with a signing bonus of more than $1 million less than the player taken after him is not acceptable.

As for McCombs' charge that McKinnie's agent orchestrated the NFLPA probe into charges of collusion, they denied any involvement -- hinting that it may have been Sims' agent who looked into that possibility. They also added that McKinnie is commited to their negotiating strategy and the McCombs hasn't driven a wedge between the agents and the client.

On a day when few will be thinking about football -- in light of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 -- it seems absurd that a solemn day like this is being spent exchanging verbal jabs at one another. We've said it before -- Vikes, swallow some pride, pay the market value and get this mess done before it hurts the team irreperably.

* On the Jim Rome radio show, league hothead Kyle Turley was baited into badmouthing Randy Moss. Turley backed up his statement that, if Moss "played when he wants to play, I'd smack him in his 'bleeping' mouth." Funny, this is the same Kyle Turley who cost his team a game Dwayne Rudd style -- throwing a helmet. The only problem was, with the Saints inside the Jets 5-yard line, the helmet he threw was one he ripped off the head of a Jets defender who aggressively went after his QB. Perhaps Turley should spend more time controlling his own anger and less time being used as a pawn by a radio schlock jock who is known for baiting interview subjects into saying controversial things just for the sake of controversy.
* Lemanski Hall was at Winter Park Tuesday and may be added back to the Vikings roster. VU has been told the shoulder injury to Raonall Smith remains serious and that Hall may have to be added to give the team depth.
* As reported yesterday, the Vikings did elevate Tyrone Carter to the first-team corner spot, moving past Eric Kelly as the starter opposite Corey Chavous.
* The NFL has allowed the Vikings and Lewis Kelly one more week with a roster exemption while Kelly grieves the death of his wife and unborn child. After Monday, however, a decision on Kelly will have to be made. Rumors persist that he is considering sitting out the entire season, although many think being back with his teammates could help his grieving process.
* Former Viking CB News I -- Dale Carter has asked for reinstatement, but VU has been told he will likely have to sit out until Week 6 at a minimum. We're told Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who made Carter wait more than a month after his one-year substance abuse violation suspension expired, may do the same again and force Carter to sit out half the year or more.
* Former Viking CB News II -- VU heard Tuesday that the Patriots are close to signing former Vike Jimmy Hitchcock to a one-year deal.

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