Why Kleinsasser Was Tagged

While the Vikings try to work out a long-term deal with Jim Kleinsasser, VU is hearing why the Vikings slapped the franchise player tag on him.

The Vikings' decision to put the franchise tag on Jim Kleinsasser came as quite a surprise to many in the local media, because most of us had been led to believe the Vikings would put a transition tag on him – which would allow the team to match any offers from other teams.

However, as the deadline drew near, Vikings brass learned that at least three teams – Cincinnati, Dallas and Houston – had a serious interest in Kleinsasser and could put a "poison pill" in the contract (big money up front in the first year of the deal to make it difficult to match, or at least very spendy).

So the Vikings hit Kleinsasser with a franchise tag. But, the timing was awful, since he now is guaranteed the salary of the top five players at his position. Unfortunately for the Vikings, that number jumped from $2.23 million to $3.05 million this year – thanks to a monster contract signed by Tony Gonzalez. To complicate matters, the figures also include the salaries of Wesley Walls and Jay Riemersma – both of whom were cut last week for cap reasons.

Is Kleinsasser going to be worth that kind of money? The Vikings think so. But, considering that the franchise cap for tight ends had remained steady for the previous three years -- $2.23 million in 2002, $2.1 million in 2001 and $2.4 million in 2000 – the timing isn't right and will cost the Vikings considerably because of it.

* For those interested, the franchise tags are getting more expensive all the time – which is why teams are reluctant to use them. These are the figures obtained by VU for the cost of franchising a player by position and how much that number has climbed since 2002 (with the exception of safety, which dropped). Quarterback $8.3 million (up $860,000 from 2002); running back $6.7 million (up $1.07 million); wide receiver $5 million (up $700,000); tight end $3.05 million (up $822,000); offensive lineman $5.7 million (up $814,000); defensive tackle $5.9 million (up $914,000); defensive end $7.17 million (up $1.47 million); linebacker $5.6 million (up $100,000); cornerback $5.96 million (up $1.47 million); safety $3.04 million (down $300,000) and kickers/punters $1.47 million (up $230,000).
* The Vikings lost out on LB Jay Foreman -- the son of Vikings great Chuck Foreman -- who resigned with Houston Monday.
* The chances of signing Corey Fuller may be dimming a bit. After mulling over a contract offer, Fuller is scheduled to meet the Ravens as early as today.
* Also back on the front burner is the punter/kickoff specialist position. Toby Gowin was scheduled to visit Winter Park later this week, but signed with Dallas Monday.
* The corners keep coming. Tory James was at Winter Park, Rams CB Dexter McCleon is in tomorrow and Denard Walker of the Broncos is in Friday.
* Orlando Brown had a very productive visit according to one Vikes inside guy and he could be wearing purple if the contract numbers match up with his agents' expectations.
* With Neil O'Donnell apparently willing to wait for Tennessee to kiss and make up with him, the Vikings have moved on ... for now. Gus Frerotte is scheduled for a visit today while the Vikings wait to hear back from O'Donnell about their contract offer.

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