Culpepper Next for Big Deal?

Friday Donovan McNabb raised the bar for contracts for young franchise quarterbacks. The question facing the Vikings is will Daunte Culpepper be next?

Many of us at VU were a little surprised when the Philadelphia Eagles stepped up to the plate to assure that Donovan McNabb spends his entire career with the Eagles. For those who missed it, McNabb, who still had four years remainining on his current contract, had that deal ripped up and signed a 12-year, $115 million deal that includes a $20.5 million signing bonus.

Surprisingly, the deal actually gives the Eagles more cap room early, because the signing bonus is spread out over the duration of the contract and his base salary for the first three years in around $3 million a year, meaning his cap number through 2005 will only be about $4.7 million -- less than most QBs count against the cap.

McNabb was the second quarterback taken in the 1999 draft, the same year the Vikings took Daunte Culpepper. Now the question facing the Vikings is whether the team will try to land a deal of that duration for Culpepper?

VU has been told that the coming off-season will be when the team tries to work out a deal for Culpepper, and many expect it to be similar to the contract signed by Randy Moss -- eight years, close to $75 million with $15 million or more up front.

This also plays into a rumor that has been circulating for some time now and kept alive almost on a weekly basis by one Twin Cities sports columnist. He insists Red McCombs is trying to sell the team quickly. His rationale is that if the team signs Bryant McKinnie, he will cost about $8-9 million in a signing bonus -- money straight out of McCombs pocket. Moss is due his second installement of his signing bonus next March -- another $9 million. If Culpepper signs a similar deal with a two-tiered bonus, that would be another $9 million coming out of McCombs' pocket. The theory goes that McCombs is set to personally hand out $27 million in bonus money over the next eight to 10 months for those players alone, much less any first-round pick for next season. That, it is believed, could be a motivating factor for McCombs trying to sell the team.

Thanks to the Eagles and McNabb, the bar has been raised. Now it's the Vikings' turn to step up to the plate.

* VU would like to apologize for the lateness of today's update. A technical problem knocked out the server for a few hours Saturday.
* Brian Russell will get his first start at safety Sunday, replacing Willie Offord. Look for the Seahawks to go after him early.
* The Vikings traveled early to Seattle and will practice at their new stadium today. The new Seattle stadium has Field Turf, an in-vogue surface that is much softer than Astroturf. This year 11 teams are using field turf.
* The Vikings and Lions are still in limbo concerning their game Oct. 13. If the Minnesota Twins advance to the American League Championship Series, the fourth game of the ALCS would be at the Metrodome and baseball gets predence over the Vikings in conflict situations like that. VU has been told the Vikings have rejected a proposal to switch home dates with Detroit for the game, which means the next option would be the move the Vikings-Lions game to Monday night Oct. 14 -- opposite the ABC Monday Night Football game.
* As expected, Byron Chamberlain was upgraded to probable Friday and is expected to start.
* Nick Davis has changed his uniform number from 17 to 86, so if you're wondering who the guy is returning kicks wearing No. 86, now you know.
* The Vikings have yet to trail in a game heading into the fourth quarter. However, after the fourth quarter has begun, the Vikings have been outscored 50-23 this season.
* We're not mentioning a certain unsigned rookie these days, but will pass along this note. Over the past several years, agent Jim Steiner has had seven clients who were first-round draft picks. Five of them were holdouts.

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