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Updated: January 7th, 2013 2:18pm
Vikings want to keep Jerome Felton, one of 14 unsigned for next season

Vikings want to keep Jerome Felton, one of 14 unsigned for next season

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- In the locker room after Saturday's playoff loss at Green Bay, Rick Spielman embraced fullback Jerome Felton, who thanked him for the opportunity.

On Monday, the Vikings' general manager made clear Felton should have more opportunities in Minnesota, and Felton said he's interested -- if the price is right.

"They said they'll be aggressive in trying to get something done, and I hope that's what comes to be," Felton said. "I guess you never know how it's going to play out. This is my first real opportunity to hit the free agency like I wanted to. But I want to be here, so hopefully, it works out."

Felton is one of 14 players who finished the season on the Vikings' 53-man roster but are unsigned for 2013. He played this season on a one-year, $750,000 contract and ended up making his first Pro Bowl blocking for the NFL's leading rusher, Adrian Peterson.

"I don't think I have to put a good word in," Peterson said. "He's a Pro Bowler. Obviously, he helped us pick up the running game and he did an outstanding job, so I think he put his own stamp on it."

As teammates cleaned out their lockers, Felton repeatedly said he wants to stay with the Vikings, who took a chance on him after he bounced between three teams during a trying 2011 and stuck by him after an offseason arrest on suspicion of DUI.

It shouldn't break the bank. The NFL's highest-paid fullback is Houston's Vonta Leach, who signed a three-year, $11 million deal ($3.7 million average) in August 2011.

The rest of the top five includes Jacksonville's Greg Jones ($3.4 million), San Diego's Le'Ron McClain ($2.75 million), Green Bay's John Kuhn ($2.5 million) and Carolina's Mike Tolbert ($2.5 million).

"I know they want me here," Felton said. "It's just about coming together and seeing if we can get something done."

The Vikings had not opened contract talks with Felton's agent, Sean Howard of Octagon, as of a few weeks ago. The team is going through its usual postseason evaluation process over the next two weeks -- including meetings between Spielman and each of the team's pending free agents.

Felton is one of 10 who can become unrestricted free agents in March. The others are: receivers Devin Aromashodu and Jerome Simpson; offensive linemen Phil Loadholt, Joe Berger and Geoff Schwartz, linebackers Brinkley, Erin Henderson and Marvin Mitchell; and safety Jamarca Sanford.

The most significant name on that list is Loadholt, the starting right tackle who was first approached about an extension early in the season.

Offensive lineman Troy Kropog and Jefferson can be restricted free agents. Sherels and Andrew Sendejo can be exclusive rights free agents. The team re-signed its entire practice squad to reserve/futures deals on Monday, putting 52 players under contract for 2013.

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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