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Updated: April 26th, 2011 7:34pm
Notebook: 'Status quo' remains at Vikings HQ; no Donovan McNabb talks?

Notebook: 'Status quo' remains at Vikings HQ; no Donovan McNabb talks?

by Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- One player's brief visit and preliminary discussions about scheduling minicamps were about the only unusual occurrences at Minnesota Vikings headquarters a day after a federal judge lifted the NFL lockout.

Operating under directives from the NFL Management Council, the Vikings allowed players inside Winter Park on Tuesday but declined to let them work out or otherwise use the facilities.

The only player known to have shown up, backup linebacker Erin Henderson, was told he couldn't use the cold tub and exited about 40 minutes later after a brief conversation with coach Leslie Frazier.

"We're still in lockout mode, and that's where we are," Frazier said. "Everything is like it was 24 hours ago for us as coaches and as an organization."

That meant no trades, no free agency and no football-related communication with players, most of whom either were out of town or opted against putting themselves in an awkward situation.

However, Frazier acknowledged he had spoken with other members of the organization "about the what-ifs" if owners fail to secure a stay of Monday's ruling from U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson or the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals while the appeals process plays out.

Nelson has set at 5 p.m. Wednesday deadline for the owners to respond to players' request for the league year to start immediately. If owners' request is rejected, Nelson could order a resumption of normal league business -- including veteran free agency -- to begin almost simultaneously with the NFL Draft, which begins at 7 p.m. Thursday.

"It'll be tough to take (free agents) out to dinner Thursday night if that would happen," said Rick Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel.

"But our free-agency board and everything is already set. We implemented a lot of things where, if it was a normal year, what would we be doing? I think that it would be pretty difficult to have free agency going on the same time as the draft, but we've talked about that with our ownership and what would we do if that happened."

Negotiate immediately

NFLPA attorney Mark Levin wrote a letter to pending free agents on Tuesday instructing them to have their agents open contract talks with teams immediately and explaining that "unless and until that order is stayed, the clubs are NOT allowed to refuse to negotiate with you. If they do refuse, you should contact Class Counsel immediately."

But as of early Tuesday evening, there were no indications officials for the Vikings or any other NFL teams were willing to talk unless directed by the league. Agent David Canter wrote on Twitter he was told by multiple teams they won't negotiate because they don't know what rules they're supposed to follow.

"From what we understand, everything is status quo," Spielman said. "We have not heard anything different and not been instructed by the NFL on anything different than what it's been from a business standpoint. So, we'll continue to abide by all of those rules."

Nineteen players who finished last season on the Vikings' roster remain unsigned for 2011. That list includes starters Husain Abdullah, Ray Edwards, Ben Leber, Ryan Longwell, Sidney Rice, Naufahu Tahi and Pat Williams. Abdullah, Edwards and Rice received restricted tenders, but it remains to be seen if those hold up whatever rules end up in place.

Not talking about McNabb?

Multiple recent reports have linked the Vikings to quarterback Donovan McNabb, who remains under contract with the Washington Redskins but almost certainly will be traded or released.

Any conversations about a trade -- the Washington Post recently reported the Vikings were among the teams that had shown interest -- would violate NFL rules if they happened after the lockout began.

Asked if he'd heard anything from the league office, Spielman said, "No, because we're not saying anything, because we can't talk about a player on another roster and we can't do any business and I know we haven't. We haven't even discussed it."

Not in limbo?

Chad Greenway signed his franchise tender little more than a week after the Vikings tagged him late February, and he expects -- as many do around the NFL -- that the next labor agreement will uphold the tags.

"Then again, who knows?" Greenway said in an interview 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

"I think, in this day and age of the NFL offseason, you can't assume anything. So, I'm kind of with everybody else. Once we get everything figured out, I'll see where I stand, and I'm certainly fortunate that the Vikings, pre-lockout, thought highly enough to give me the franchise tag, rather than sitting here in limbo."

The decertified players' association has challenged the validity of the tags, as well as the NFL Draft, free agency, the salary cap and other mechanisms in an antitrust lawsuit. If the tags hold up, Greenway's one-year tender offer is expected to be worth around $11 million, although the Vikings hope to work out a long-term deal.

Quick hit

• Spielman declined to reveal how many players the Vikings have removed from their draft board because of character or medical concerns but did say the number is "a little less than normal."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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