Tice Talk: Sass Stays

Mike Tice wants Jim Kleinsasser to stay with the Vikings and is confident he wants to stay in Minnesota and will sign. The question is when?

Discussions between the Vikings and the agents for Jim Kleinsasser are barely past the "have they returned a phone call?" stage, but Vikings coach Mike Tice is convinced the TE-turned fullback-turned-TE-again is going to stay.

Tice said Wednesday that he has spoken with both Kleinsasser and Red McCombs and that all three are in agreement that a deal will be worked out to keep him a Viking.

Tice stated that he was "almost 100 percent" convinced that Kleinsasser will be designated as a transition free agent. That means that, if a deal isn't worked out before the Feb. 28 deadline before free agency, the Vikings have the option to match an offer sheet he signs with any team. However, it's looking more like the entire process may get by-passed by agreeing to a deal sooner than that.

* Tice reiterated a couple of things concerning his quarterback situation. He maintained that Daunte Culpepper is his No. 1 QB now and in the future, hinting that contract talks to lock him long-term will be made in the off-season. He also said he had decided to look into trade opportunities for backup QB Todd Bouman long before he was mentioned in a police investigation of alleged incidents at the recent Arctic Blast charity event. He didn't say, however, that Bouman would be released by April 15 if a trade wasn't worked out. Bouman is due a $1 million roster bonus if still with the team on April 15. He said if a trade isn't worked out, Bouman would be welcomed back as his No. 2 QB.
* Former Miami first-round pick John Avery -- taken in the same draft as Randy Moss -- is going to get a tryout with the Vikings. Avery washed out in Miami, was traded to Denver in 1999 and was cut in 2000. After a spring 2001 campaign with Vince McMahon's ill-fated XFL and its Chicago Enforcers, Avery attempted a comeback with Dallas but was released. He spent 2002 playing with the CFL.
* In non-Moss news, a Detroit newspaper said new Lions coach Steve Mariucci is interested in WR Charles Rogers of nearby Michigan State with the No. 2 pick. The story went on to state the great wide receivers taken later in the draft, including Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison -- mid-first round picks -- and Terrell Owens -- a third-rounder. But nowhere was it stated that Randy Moss was taken with the 21st pick in the 1998 draft -- which history may see as an even bigger shock than Rice or Harrison. Apparently torching Detroit for a touchdown a game through his career hasn't made much of an impression in Motown.

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