MANKATO - Unless things change dramatically, Pat Williams will be playing elsewhere next season.
The agent for the Vikings' Pro Bowl nose tackle said Friday he has ended negotiations on a contract extension and that Williams will explore the free-agent market next spring. Angelo Wright told the Vikings this spring that if Williams didn't have an extension by the time training camp started, his plan was to cease talks.
The Vikings informed Wright they would not meet his terms earlier this week; Williams is entering the final year of a three-year, $13 million deal. "Our objective now is to focus on the season and move on afterward," Wright said.
The loss of the 6-3, 320-pound-plus Williams would be significant, considering he was a main reason the Vikings run defense was No. 1 in the NFL last season.
Wright admitted Williams "is disappointed" but added, "He understands this is a business and he plans to go out and play at the same level he's enjoyed previously." A Vikings spokesperson said the team would have no comment on the situation Friday night.
One of the key areas where the sides were divided, according to Wright, was the amount of guaranteed money the Vikings were willing to give Williams, 34. "They thought age was a consideration and if I was on that side of the table I would weigh those things as well," Wright said. "But in this business now we've reached some new frontiers in terms of where the dollars are at [for defensive tackles]."
Wright was referring in particular to the contract the Detroit Lions recently gave Cory Redding. Redding reportedly signed a seven-year, $49 million deal that included more than $16 million in guaranteed money and more than $20 million in the first three years.
Wright, who first approached the Vikings about an extension in February at the NFL combine, would not get into specifics but made it clear the Vikings fell well short in how much they were willing to guarantee over the life of an extension that would have gone through 2010.
"We would have been selling ourselves dramatically short [by signing this] without letting the market dictate our value," Wright said. "Our major disappointment is really, 'Why can you throw money around to people like Fred Smoot, who you know lacks character when you sign him, but spend a lot of money on them? But you get a guy like Pat Williams, who brings his lunch pail to work every day, and you want to strong-arm him.' "
Williams said this offseason that he wants to play another four years before retiring.
So is there any chance the two sides decide to renew talks? I would never say never but I highly doubt that thats likely, Wright said. Were looking at next year now [from a contract standpoint] and our thoughts now are what we deem the market to be. ... Were looking forward to Pat playing the season out and letting the market tell us what were worth.