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Quarterback Donovan McNabb

Brian Peterson, Star Tribune file

POST-NFL LOCKOUT

Veteran free agency: Negotiations began Tuesday, signings Friday • Training camp: Vikings report to Mankato on Sunday •

Preseason opener: Aug. 13 at Tennessee

McNabb to Vikings gains steam

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD
  • Star Tribune
  • July 27, 2011 - 10:33 AM

After two years of having Brett Favre under center, the Vikings appear prepared to go with a younger quarterback. But it might not be rookie Christian Ponder.

Instead, all signs point to the Vikings replacing the 41-year-old Favre with soon-to-be 35-year-old Donovan McNabb. An NFL source confirmed late Tuesday that discussions were ongoing between the Vikings and the Redskins about a potential trade.

Reports had swirled throughout the day that the teams were in talks, and Fox's Jay Glazer reported the Vikings had agreed to send a sixth-round draft pick in 2012 and possibly a sixth-rounder in 2013 to the Redskins for McNabb.

There is a catch: The deal is contingent on McNabb agreeing to take less money -- he signed a five-year, $78 million contract extension last season -- in part because the Vikings are nearly $4 million over the $120 million salary cap.

Meanwhile, the Vikings also spent much of Tuesday trying to retain the services of Sidney Rice, who reportedly was being aggressively pursued by Seattle. Rice is considered one of the top free-agent wide receivers on the market.

All of this transpired on the day the Vikings got back to work trying to sign their own draft choices and undrafted rookies and opened negotiations with veterans. Players were welcomed back at team facilities for the first time since the lockout began March 11.

The Vikings struck one deal, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with journeyman wide receiver Devin Aromashodu, and told defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy that he would be released Thursday when such moves will be allowed. Kennedy's cap hit of $2.5 million will come off the books.

Aromashodu, 27, who had been with the Chicago Bears, can't officially sign until 5 p.m. Friday. His best season came in 2009, when he caught 24 passes for 298 yards with four touchdowns, but he fell out of favor in Chicago last season after Mike Martz took over as offensive coordinator.

The Vikings also were one of the teams to inquire about San Diego free-agent safety Eric Weddle, who is drawing interest from Dallas, Houston and Jacksonville.

Meanwhile, free-agent quarterback Tarvaris Jackson ended his often-rocky stay in Minnesota by agreeing to terms with the Seahawks. Darrell Bevell, the Vikings offensive coordinator during Jackson's five seasons here, now holds the same position with the Seahawks.

Losing Jackson to Seattle won't bother the Vikings, but if Rice bolts, that would be another issue. The Vikings reached out to a few of their 16 free agents Tuesday, and Rice was among them. The issue is that Seattle is well under the salary cap and might be in a position to make a better offer.

Players were allowed back in Winter Park at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and the first to arrive was wide receiver Percy Harvin. He was followed by about 15 others players over the next couple of hours, including Ponder, and certainly more came in throughout the day. Media did not have access to the locker room.

That locker room could be in for an interesting addition with McNabb. He almost certainly would have to give assurances that he would serve as a mentor to Ponder, the 12th pick in the April draft.

The Vikings focus on McNabb appeared to intensify Tuesday night when free-agent quarterback Tyler Thigpen agreed to a three-year deal with Buffalo. The Vikings had been interested in bringing in Thigpen as their veteran after he had spent time in Miami. The Vikings were familiar with Thigpen, having selected him in the seventh-round of the 2007 draft. The team lost him to Kansas City on waivers that summer when they tried to sneak him through.

McNabb spent 11 seasons in Philadelphia before being dealt to Washington last season. The Redskins finished 6-10, and coach Mike Shanahan benched McNabb twice as he threw 14 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions with a 77.1 passer rating in 13 games.

It hasn't been a secret that the Redskins had no intention of bringing back McNabb, and the expectation was that he would be released. That is why the Redskins would be thrilled to get something in return for him.

As for McNabb's contract situation, he is due a $10 million bonus next month that the Vikings certainly aren't going to pay and his current deal calls for a 2011 salary for as much as $14.8 million. That figure will have to be reduced drastically if McNabb is going to become a Viking.

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