Vikings issue restricted tenders to Sidney Rice, Ray Edwards, 5 others
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The uncertain rules of the NFL's next collective-bargaining agreement left the Minnesota Vikings playing some zone defense with restricted tenders on Wednesday.
According to NFL sources, the Vikings also placed a second-round tender on backup end Brian Robison and tendered two other backups, linebacker Erin Henderson and safety Eric Frampton, presumably for right of first refusal only in advance of Thursday's 3 p.m. deadline.
By using the tenders with all notable players who have five accrued seasons or fewer, the Vikings ensured they'd be covered regardless of how the next CBA impacts free-agent eligibility. The minimum increased from four seasons to six when owners voided the existing CBA prior to last season, but it's expected a new agreement will return the number to four or perhaps five.
A restricted tender is a one-year contract offer, with the various offer levels dictating base salary and the compensation the Vikings would receive if the player signs an offer sheet elsewhere and they choose not to match.
In 2011, the current CBA has the minimum salary for four-year players tendered as follows: first-and third-round tender ($3.442 million), first-round tender ($2.736 million), second-round tender ($1.910 million), right of first refusal tender ($1.275 million). Five-year players' tenders are worth $100,000 more at the two highest levels and $50,000 more at the other levels. For three-year players, the numbers are: first-and third-round tender ($3.317 million), first-round tender ($2.611 million), second-round tender ($1.835 million), right of first refusal tender ($1.2 million).
Teams also can lock in compensation of a pick in the round the player was drafted with a tender offer of the right of first refusal number or 110% of the player's previous-year base salary, whichever is greater. If the Vikings did that with Cook, a former second-round pick, they'd receive only a third-round pick should he sign elsewhere.
If Cook indeed received the second-round tender, the value of the Vikings' known tenders would be: Edwards ($2.836 million), Rice ($2.736 million), Cook ($1.96 million), Robison ($1.91 million), Abdullah ($1.835 million), Frampton ($1.275 million) and Henderson ($1.2 million).
The biggest surprise of the Vikings tender offers on Wednesday was they only put the first-round tender on Rice, rather than the first- and third-round tender. Then again, there was so little movement in restricted free agency last year -- only one player changed teams -- that the Vikings may feel the high tender was unnecessary.
Edwards -- who wasn't happy last year when he received the first-round tender worth $2.521 million -- and Cook are five-year players who probably will be unrestricted whenever a new CBA is reached.
Rice, Robison and Frampton are four-year players whose status is uncertain, pending the minimum eligibility requirements set forth in the next CBA. Abdullah and Henderson are three-year players who would have been restricted under the old rules.
Other possible restricted free agents on the Vikings roster include receiver Hank Baskett (five years), defensive tackle Fred Evans (five), quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (five) and fullback Naufahu Tahi (five). The Vikings met with the agents for Evans and Tahi last week in Indianapolis; it is presumed Baskett and Jackson will be let go.
Backup running back Albert Young, whose 2010 season ended with a knee injury, had not been given an exclusive-rights tender as of early Wednesday evening, a source said.