Darrion Scott waited a long time to sign his tender from the Vikings – he finally signed it Thursday after receiving it in early March – but he said after Friday's practice that it was the language in the contract that needed to be cleaned up, not the fact that it was the lowest of four possible tenders that caused the delay.
Still, Scott admitted he was disappointed by the Vikings placing such a low value on him.
"I want to be here," he said, choosing his words carefully, "but I also want to be with a team that wants me here, that's going to show me: if you played well over the past few years and you produced well, we're going to sign you and keep you here, instead of waiting and signing me to a low-term tender.
"Like I said, I do want to be here. I don't want to find a new home. I'm comfortable here, I love the guys I play with. Coach (Karl) Dunbar, he's a helluva coach. He's one of the best coaches I've been around as far as teaching the guys technique. I've just (gotten to know) Leslie Frazier, and he's a great guy in addition to being a good coach. This is where I want to be, but I can't control what the organization does."
This year, a fourth level of tendering restricted free agents (three years of experience) became part of the free-agent landscape. Teams could tender their restricted free agents and get draft-pick compensation if they signed with another team and the original team declined to match that offer. That compensation was either 1) a first- and third-round draft pick; 2) a single first-round draft pick; 3) a second-round draft pick, or; 4) the level of pick where that player was chosen.
Since Scott was a third-round selection of the Vikings, they would have received a third-round pick if another team signed him to an offer sheet that the Vikings declined to match.
"The hard thing was getting a team that was willing to give up a good amount of money and that third-round pick. That was the issue," Scott said. "But if a team really wanted me, they would have come and got me. I can't be mad about it because the opportunity for me to get the money from another team was out there."
Instead, Scott will make $850,000 this year as one of 63 restricted free agents receiving the lowest tender. The other tenders were worth, in order, $2.35 million (first- and third-round compensation), $1.85 million (first-round compensation) or $1.3 million (second-round compensation). According to The Sports Exchange, 23 restricted free agents received the new second-round tender, five were tendered at the first-round level and three were tendered at first- and third-round levels.
But what Scott would really like is to be named the starter at defensive end and given a long-term deal instead of his one-year tender. Last year, he became the starter at left defensive end when Erasmus James suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the second game of the season and Kenechi Udeze moved to right end. Scott has also been used regularly as a pass-rushing defensive tackle when the Vikings employ their nickel defense.
"Obviously I've done what I needed to do to start – that's being honest," Scott said. "In a way, I like the versatility partly because it keeps me on the field. I can play end and then in passing situations I can move inside. If they feel like there is a better pass rusher than me off the edge, then they put him in and I move inside because I like to be on the field. In some situations, it's a rhythm, football is a rhythm. If you're inside, you don't really have a feel for that guy, so it can slow you down somewhat, but I don't think that has anything to do with me starting."
Scott said he's talked with the coaches about his opportunity to start and it's sounding more like an open competition this year for the left defensive end position between Scott, who led the team with 5.5 sacks despite not being known as a pass rusher, and Udeze, who had no sacks last year as a full-time starter.
"I feel like they've been honest with me and told me the job was open. Kenechi and me have been going back and forth. He goes with the ones (starters) in the morning and I go with them in the evening," Scott said. "As far as being a starter, I'd love to be a starter. I feel like I deserve it. The coaches feel like every year they want guys to come out and compete all over again. I'm fine with that. I'll compete and that's all I can do."
He said his agent and the team talked last year about an extension, but nothing came of those initial talks. Now, Scott said he's not worrying about it, but he added that his agent has been calling Rob Brzezinski, the team's vice president of football operations, to try to get that accomplished. He insists he's over the disappointment of that low tender and is now ready to prove himself all over again.
"I feel like I have to play my butt off to get an extension, play better than anybody else and be that guy they want to keep and a guy they want to lock down. If that's what it is, then that's what it is – I can't control it. If I'm not a guy they want to keep here, then I'll move on. This is the NFL, it's a business and I understand everything. … Now it's all about trying to win a job and I really feel I'm the guy for it.
"I don't take anything from anybody else, but football is about production and I'll just let my production speak for itself."
Scott Talks from the Heart
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