Notebook: Ryan Longwell hopes to re-sign, doesn't know what to expect
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- In 14 NFL seasons, Ryan Longwell only has made it to free agency once.
That was in March 2006, when the veteran place-kicker signed a five-year, $10 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings that included a $3 million signing bonus hours after the signing period began.
"The writing was on the wall early on that one," said Longwell, who'd been told that January by a Green Bay Packers official he wouldn't be re-signed. "This one -- I don't know."
Longwell, 36, is among the 21 players on the Vikings' 53-man roster and injured reserve who are unsigned beyond the end of the season.
The situation isn't unique -- roughly 500 players around the league face similarly uncertain futures, as teams take a wait-and-see approach to the possibility of a lockout and altered rules to free agency.
But Longwell and others in the Vikings locker room face additional uncertainty, with the coaching staff and perhaps the personnel department in jeopardy of being replaced, too, depending whom ownership selects to take over football operations in the wake of coach Brad Childress' firing.
"There's just nothing," Longwell said, when asked about extensions being discussed with anyone.
"There's so much uncertainty that it almost makes it easier to deal with, because there's no deadline. There's always been a deadline for free agency to start. No one knows. So, you just kind of enjoy the time with this group, and hopefully, there's more, but if not, then we'll see where it goes."
For his part, Longwell appears to have set himself up for one more multi-year contract. Coming off a career-high 92.9% conversation rate on 28 field-goal attempts in 2009, Longwell is 12-for-13 (92.3%) this season, his only miss when he misjudged the wind Nov. 14 at Chicago and hit the left upright.
The Vikings gave Rhys Lloyd a $200,000 bonus to take over kickoff duties, but he didn't make the team, and Longwell has drawn positive reviews in that area, too, albeit with only two touchbacks.
"There's no doubt I'd love to stay here," Longwell said. "Sarah and I have loved our five years here, and we'd love to extend it. But we feel really good about the opportunity to go play, whether it's here or elsewhere. It's really not in our control, and we're kind of at peace with that."
Webb a wideout?
Despite the Vikings' tenuous situation at wide receiver, Frazier said "it would be tough" to use rookie quarterback Joe Webb -- who was drafted to play receiver -- in an emergency situation on Sunday against Buffalo.
"We've never done it with him," Frazier said. "We didn't do it with him in training camp. When he came after the draft, that was his first position. But then once he got moved (following rookie minicamp), he never got any work there."
Of the six receivers on the 53-man roster, only backups Greg Camarillo and Hank Baskett weren't on the injury report this week. Bernard Berrian (groin) and Sidney Rice (hip) were listed as probable, while Percy Harvin (illness) and Greg Lewis (concussion) are questionable.
The lone receiver on the practice squad, Freddie Brown, has been away tending to a family emergency. The Vikings also have to determine whether they have any choice but to activate No. 3 halfback Albert Young as insurance for Adrian Peterson, who is questionable with an ankle injury.
Webb (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) has suited up but been listed as inactive for all 11 games this season. If the Vikings want him to play another position, they'd have to count him against the 45-man roster.
"He may have to end up being a tailback this week," Frazier joked. "Who knows? But we're going to try to figure out what's the best way to go."
A day after a report surfaced running backs Eric Bieniemy was set to become Colorado's offensive coordinator, Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier said he hadn't received an update on the situation and expects Bieniemy to finish the season either way.
"Even if they offer him the job. for sure, we need him in a big way," Frazier said. "I hope that would be the case."
The Star Tribune reported Bieniemy has been offered the job at his alma matter but still is considering his options.
• The Bills ruled out four players, including RG Eric Wood (ankle). Another starter, CB Terrence McGee (knee), is questionable.
• For a third straight day, Frazier opened his meeting with reporters by urging fans to be loud at the Metrodome on Sunday -- a positive way. The Vikings have been booed off the field at halftime of all five home games this season. "I know that the fans got our back, man," TE Visanthe Shiancoe said. "Of course, man, when they're not satisfied -- I mean, if I was at ... our last home game, what was it, (a 31-3 loss to) the Packers? I would boo, too. I would have booed too if I was in the crowd and I paid my hard-earned money to see some nonsense like that."
• Frazier was more optimistic about Peterson's chances than the other players listed as questionable and indicated he wouldn't be active in a backup role. "If he's able to go, he would definitely start," Frazier said. "Now, what his workload would be would be determined by what he tells us, how he's feeling. Do I need a break this series or a break this play? Or, 'Hey, coach I can finish this series.' So, it would be our communicating with him, just to see what he can and can't do."