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Updated: March 27th, 2012 8:08pm
Notebook: Vikings 'supportive' of bounty suspensions, Mark Wilf says

Notebook: Vikings 'supportive' of bounty suspensions, Mark Wilf says

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The NFL's investigation into the Saints' bounty program confirmed the Minnesota Vikings' belief that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams encouraged New Orleans defenders to try to injury opponents.

The league handed down stiff punishment last week, and Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf on Tuesday expressed support for the decision, though he declined to say much else about the NFL's findings.

"We'll let the league's comments and actions stand on their own," Wilf said. "We'd rather not comment on the specifics of it. I think the league has spoken, the commissioner has spoken, and we'll let that stand as it is."

Among the games in which the NFL investigation uncovered specific bounties was the January 2010 NFC championship matchup between the Saints and Vikings, whose quarterback, Brett Favre, never left the game but took a beating. Former Vikings coach Brad Childress openly questioned a series of hits on Favre he felt were illegal.

The league later determined Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered a $10,000 bounty to the player who took Favre out of the game. Vilma and other players face possible suspensions to go with the bans handed out to Williams (indefinite), coach Sean Payton (one year) and general manager Mickey Loomis (eight games).

Of course, that does nothing to change the result of the Vikings' 31-28 loss. Two weeks later, the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

Asked if he was disappointed to learn bounties was a part of the most important game since he and brother Zygi bought the Vikings in 2005, Mark Wilf said, "I'm not going to comment on anything on that. We're going to just focus on the fact that the league has acted and we're supportive of their actions."

Contract updates

Backup nose tackle Fred Evans' string of one-year contracts ended last week, and he got a raise out of the deal -- though he's still not making what he was two years ago.

A source with access to NFL salary data said on Tuesday the two-year contract Evans signed last week includes $1.5 million in the first year. His base salary is $700,000 in 2012 and $1.45 million in 2013.

Evans played the 2010 season under a second-round restricted tender of $1.759 million. He got a $100,000 bonus for re-signing with the Vikings on a one-year, $1.1 million deal after the lockout ended in July.

Running back Lex Hilliard has a $50,000 bonus in his one-year deal, as does fullback Jerome Felton. Cornerback Nick Taylor didn't receive a bonus on his three-year deal.

Pending the filing of one-year contracts reached in recent days with linebacker Erin Henderson, offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, receiver Devin Aromashodu and cornerback Zackary Bowman, the Vikings were about $13.2 million under their adjusted salary cap as of Tuesday afternoon.

Rosenfels' role

Shortly before free agency began, the Vikings signed backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels to a two-year, $3 million deal in large part to provide a veteran presence in the meeting room with Christian Ponder and Joe Webb.

"I think Sage brings value to our organization," general manager Rick Spielman said, "not only that he can still play and perform (but) when you have two young quarterbacks and to have a veteran like Sage, who's extremely smart, who's experienced a lot of things, been in a lot of places, been in a lot of different systems, to have a veteran presence in that room with those two young guys I think is a huge advantage for those two young guys."

Spielman also hinted the Vikings may continue to use Webb within the game plan in certain packages, even though coach Leslie Frazier has made clear he wants the athletic third-year pro to take all of his reps at quarterback.

"That's where Sage brings his value, too," Spielman said, "and whatever the coaches are going to do with Joe, if he's going to incorporated in other packages ... but you also know you have another quarterback on your roster that can go in and play and manage games and help you win ballgames if he had to go in and do that."

Praise for Bowman

The Vikings saw plenty of Bowman during his four seasons with the Chicago Bears, and the combination of his size (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) and ability to contribute on coverage units were viewed as a plus.

"He's a big corner that's more of a press-type corner that, since he's been in the league, has had some inconsistencies at corner but still has upside to develop," Spielman said of Bowman, who reportedly signed a minimum deal with no guaranteed money.

"The other thing he brings is he does have a lot of value on special teams. So, as you're accumulating your roster and a lot of the moves that we have made thus far have been upgrading the bottom end of your roster with guys that are going to contribute and help you win ballgames. He fit into that category."

Bowman, 27, had six interceptions in 2009, when he started 12 games. He was benched three games into the 2010 season, though, and has made only one start since.

"Those are some of the things you're looking at," Spielman said. "You look at the history -- not just what he did last year, but what he's done in previous years. Sometimes, for whatever reasons, when players make a change of team or change of scenery, sometimes, you can get maybe that best year out of that player as well."

No hard feelings

Spielman said there were no hard feelings with weakside linebacker Erin Henderson, who vented frustration on Twitter about his contract status less than a week before re-signing with the Vikings on a one-year, $2 million deal.

"I felt very strong about Erin, because he's another young player that's on the come that has the ability to play multiple positions," Spielman said.

"He's not just a strongside or weakside linebacker. He's played some middle. So, he gives you not only a young guy that we feel is going to continue to develop and grow, but also a guy that can play multiple positions and give you some flexibility there as well."

Quick hits

• NFL Network reported owners voted 29-0 with one abstention to uphold the salary cap penalties the NFL levied against the Washington Redskins ($36 million) and Dallas Cowboys ($10 million) earlier this month for violating the spirit of the rules for the uncapped 2010 league year. The NFL on Monday issued a statement saying the issue will go to arbitration. No date has been set for an initial hearing.

• Spielman declined to respond to a Pioneer Press report about the Vikings' interest in pursuing WR Pierre Garcon, who agreed to a five-year, $42.5 million deal with Washington hours after free agency opened on March 13. "I won't get into where we were or weren't with players that we didn't sign," Spielman said. "I'll just leave that."

• Officials from all 32 teams met to discuss proposed rules and bylaws changes. Each issue will either be voted on or tabled in a separate meeting on Wednesday.

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