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Updated: March 4th, 2013 3:44pm
Vikings pass on tagging Phil Loadholt, have 8 days to work out deal

Vikings pass on tagging Phil Loadholt, have 8 days to work out deal

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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No surprise here: the Minnesota Vikings passed on using the franchise tag before Monday's deadline.

That clears the way for right tackle Phil Loadholt and nine other Vikings to hit the unrestricted free agent market if new deals can't be worked out in the next eight days.

Loadholt was the only plausible candidate for the franchise tag. But that would have required the Vikings to offer him a robust one-year salary of $9.828 million.

Instead, they'll now have until 3 p.m. on March 12 to negotiate a new deal or expose Loadholt to the market.

Only eight players were franchised this season across the NFL -- down for a record 21 last year.

They are: Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd, Chicago defensive tackle Henry Melton, Cincinnati end Michael Johnson, Dallas linebacker Anthony Spencer, Denver tackle Ryan Clady, Indianapolis punter Pat McAfee, Kansas City tackle Branden Albert and Miami defensive tackle Randy Starks.

All unrestricted free agents can begin legally speaking with other teams beginning at 11 p.m. Central on Friday, when the NFL's new negotiating window opens.

The Vikings' other pending UFAs are: fullback Jerome Felton; safety Jamarca Sanford; linebackers Erin Henderson, Jasper Brinkley and Marvin Mitchell; receivers Devin Aromashodu and Jerome Simpson; and offensive linemen Joe Berger and Geoff Schwartz.

They were about $14.256 million under their adjusted salary cap as of Monday afternoon and gained another $3.25 million in cap space with the reported release of receiver Michael Jenkins.

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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