Notebook: Vikings monitoring Erin Henderson, but no offer on the table
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The Minnesota Vikings are keeping touch with Erin Henderson's agent, general manager Rick Spielman said in a media conference call on Wednesday, but there is no standing offer on the table for the starting weakside linebacker.
Two NFL sources said last week the Vikings had made clear they wanted to retain Henderson, and it was believed the sides had made progress on a bridge deal that would continue the 25-year-old's development for another two or three years.
However, those negotiations apparently hit a snag -- the length of the deal was believed to be a sticking point -- and Henderson hit the market along with 14 other players from last year's roster at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
"Right now, we don't have a standing offer," Spielman said, "but again, we've had a lot of productive conversations with his agent -- not specifically on contract terms and things like that. I think everybody has to go through this process and this is the part where you try to be patient and see if there is a deal that can potentially be done."
Spielman said the Vikings also are monitoring Henderson's brother, veteran middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, "and a couple other guys that we're keeping tabs on. Sometimes, they have to go out in the market to kind of establish what that value is."
The Vikings re-signed backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels and defensive tackle Letroy Guion just before the market opened and agreed to terms with tight end John Carlson on a reported five-year, $25 million deal on Wednesday morning.
They've otherwise been among the quieter teams during an initial spending spree led by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who handed out $140.5 million in contracts to receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright.
"We're going to be patient with this," Spielman said. "We're going to strike when we feel there's a player out there that can help us win ballgames. The ownership has always given us the financial backing we need to go get players if we need to get them. But we're also going to be very patient and prudent as we go through this.
"I know plenty of our needs are going to be filled through the draft, but we are not done yet. We are still looking at (unrestricted free agents) as we go along in this process, and we'll continue to monitor that. There may be a couple guys coming in (for visits) over the next couple of weeks. We'll continue to add players as we see fit."
Faced with a series of questions about the Vikings' plans for the rest of free agency, Spielman repeatedly stressed patience and urged fans to "give us time to put this roster together. We're not only putting it together for 2012. We're building this roster so we'll be able to maintain this roster over the next three, four, five years."
He indicated the Vikings have more free-agent visits scheduled but declined to elaborate, saying only that team officials have been working the phones much of the day.
Asked why the Vikings haven't been more aggressive with upwards of $23 million in salary-cap space at their disposal entering free agency, Spielman said, "I don't think we're a player or two away to go out and say you're going to spend the money that's being spent on all those players that have gotten contracts early.
"I think what we're trying to do, again, is find some players that we think are going to be able to help us win ballgames that are going to contribute and then continually to build this through the draft and keep our draft picks and potentially add more draft picks and keep our roster competitive year in and year out that way."
Johnson on the mend
Free-agent safety Tyrell Johnson said his rehabilitation is going well and he's "about 75 to 80 percent" healed from surgery in late November to repair a hamstring tendon avulsion.
The Vikings aren't expected to retain Johnson, a second-round draft pick in 2008 who has played in 49 games over four NFL seasons, starting 27. But there should be a market for the 26-year-old's services once he's healthy.
• NFL Network reported on Wednesday that free-agent TE Visanthe Shiancoe will make a visit to Seattle, where former Vikings OC Darrell Bevell now holds the same job. Shiancoe made clear on Wednesday morning he won't be back with the Vikings, shortly before they signed Carlson to replace him.
• The Pioneer Press reported LB Kenny Onatolu, whom the Vikings didn't give a restricted tender, will visit Carolina.
• One day after Cortland Finnegan signed a reported five-year, $50 million contract with St. Louis, the other top free-agent cornerback, Brandon Carr, agreed to a virtually identical deal with Dallas. ESPN reported Carr's deal is worth $50.1 million over five years.