While the Vikings continue to hold out hope of re-signing center Matt Birk before the start of free agency on Friday, there are two other key free agents that they are considering as well.
Tight end Jim Kleinsasser is probably the least-discussed starter among the team's pending free agents, and it's uncertain what their plan is with him.
"I want Jim to come back and he knows that," Vikings coach Brad Childress said from NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "He knew that last year. I think he's in a decent spot, mentally. He'd like to finish as a Minnesota Viking, I believe, as well. He knows how I feel, and I know how he feels. And that's as important as anything."
Kleinsasser's cap number last year was about $3.8 million, and the Vikings could have opted to use the franchise tag on him for a one-year, $4.46 million number this year. However, they declined to do that, which means they will look to sign him to a multi-year deal before free agency opens on Feb. 27.
After Birk and Kleinsasser, the other key unrestricted free agents for the Vikings, who likely will make it to the open market, is safety Darren Sharper.
The Vikings were talking with his agent as well in Indianapolis and Childress said Sharper himself might even travel to Indianapolis.
"But I know that I would say most all those guys are probably going to go and see what the market has for them. You hear crazy things about market numbers, and you see crazy things like the contract that the cornerback from the Raiders (Nnamdi Asomugha) signed," Childress said.
"So I think that probably most those guys who have agents - and they all have agents - want to see what that pot of gold looks like and what's out there for them. You can't begrudge them that. That's what free agency is for."
HENDERSON COMING ALONG
The Vikings don't anticipate any problems with E.J. Henderson's recovery from dislocated toes. Henderson suffered the injury in the fourth game of the season and was placed on injured reserve.
Henderson said weeks after suffering the injury that he thought he could have played late in the season if he hadn't been placed on injured reserve, a sentiment that Childress echoed on Friday when asked how Henderson was doing.
"He's great. He probably could have played at the end of the year. But I think what ended up happening, it allowed him to go a little slower with his rehab, as opposed to feeling like there was a gun to his head to get back by this time. But I believe he's fine," Childress said.
Childress said he didn't regret putting Henderson on injured reserve.
"No. Obviously, we had a little bit of a blip on special teams, and to hold a position that's truly not available to us, I don't think it would have helped us," Childress said.
Vikings continue free-agent work
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