Vikings free agent left guard Charlie Johnson said by phone today that he remains in communication with the Vikings but has been told to look around first before the two sides talk further.
"I guess the one thing I can say is the ship hasn't sailed, but they're willing to let me go out and see what other options are out there," Johnson said. "Once that happens, we'll go back to them and go from there."
Johnson said he and his agent have lined up interested teams, but wouldn't elaborate.
"Right now, we're at about five different teams that we're in communication with," he said. "Other than that, we want to keep it close to the vest right now."
Johnson came to the Vikings in late summer 2011 during a hurried-up free agency period that was condensed because of the NFL lockout that year.
"It's a little strange because the first time I was a free agent, I didn't have this much time to be patient and look at different options," Johnson said. "It's definitely a blessing, but at the same time, you'd like to know what's going to happen and know whether I'm going back to Minnesota or moving in another direction."
Johnson has started 48 out of 49 games, including one playoff contest, since joining the Vikings. He started 16 games at left tackle in 2011 and has started at left guard for every game but one since then.
Currently, the Vikings have two players on their roster who could start at left guard: Joe Berger, who backs up all three interior line spots, and Jeff Baca, who was a sixth-round draft pick a year ago.
"It's been an interesting couple of days," Johnson said. "Just looking to see what's out there. That's about it. We'll see what happens. By the end of this week, I'll know what's going on."
Johnson said he's not upset that the Vikings have chosen to let him explore his options first.
"It's just business," he said. "They have a plan in place and my people and myself have a plan in place. That's just the way it is. I've been around eight years and have had a lot of friends and teammates go through the same situation. So I know how it works. Ultimately, it will get figured out one way or the other."