Defensive end Ray Edwards told KFAN Radio on Friday that he has been informed by the Vikings that they will make him a tender offer that almost certainly will keep him with the franchise on a one-year agreement for 2010. This comes as no surprise but Edwards can't be blamed for not being thrilled about the situation.
Having played four seasons with the Vikings, Edwards previously would have become an unrestricted free agent on March 5 when the NFL's new year begins. That means he would have been in line for an attractive long-term deal either with the Vikings or another team.
However, if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't in place by that date -- and it's almost a certainty that won't be the case -- Edwards is one of 212 players league-wide who will be a restricted free agent instead of unrestricted. That group will need six years, instead of four, to hit the unrestricted market.
Edwards, appearing on Paul Allen's show on KFAN, told Allen and frequent Friday co-host Paul Charchian that coach Brad Childress basically put things on the table for him at his exit interview after the Vikings' loss to New Orleans in the NFC title game last month. "Basically [he said] they were going to tender me and [said], 'I know it's not the raise you're looking for but basically there's nothing you can do about it,'" Edwards said. "He's right because if another team doesn't value my talent and what I can do that's basically what it is. They value me [at] what they want to value me at and I'm stuck here for another year until a collective bargaining agreement gets done."
If that doesn't happen, there could a work stoppage in the NFL in 2011.
"I don't know how the NFLPA let that happen [with the service-time requirement going from four to six years]," Edwards said. "Definitely I'm pretty sure they pride themselves on what we fought for as a union and being able to have free agency. But they allowed this to happen to a lot of players that are coming up to getting money to provide for their families."
Edwards, the Vikings' starting left end, is coming off a season in which he finished second on the team with 8.5 sacks and then tied a franchise postseason record with three sacks in the Vikings' victory over Dallas. He injured his right knee in that game and played in the NFC title game with a brace on the knee.
"I felt that hopefully if the Vikings don't come up with a deal for me to keep me here somebody else will value me as a player and as an individual and what I would bring to their team and their community to come get me because I feel that I definitely deserve my due and we'll see where that goes down the line," Edwards said. "We've got about 21 days until that decision comes."
But, as Edwards said earlier, the Vikings are now in the driver's seat in this case and can put a tender on him that likely will chase other interested teams away. It would not be surprising to see the Vikings put the highest tender on Edwards for a player with four years of experience. That would be worth $3.168 million for the 2010 season.
Minnesota would have the right to match any offer Edwards received and if they didn't match it, the team signing him would have to give up a first- and third-round pick. That price would be far too steep for any team to pay.
Other Vikings in the same situation as Edwards when it comes to free agency include offensive lineman Ryan Cook, defensive tackle Fred Evans, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, cornerback Karl Paymah and fullback Naufahu Tahi. One guess is that the Vikings could tender Jackson a one-year, $1.176 million offer.
Any team signing him would have to give up a pick in the same round that Jackson was drafted if the Vikings did not match the offer. That would be a second-rounder.