Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.
Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
Although there has been speculation the Vikings could use the franchise tag on pending free agents Chad Greenway or Sidney Rice, vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said today that no decision has been made.
"We're going through that process," said Spielman, whose team has 19 potential restricted and unrestricted free agents. "I think you tie that into your whole process, on whether you're going to utilize that franchise tag or not. But anything from any type of roster moves or franchise tag or anything like that, we'll probably not buckle up here until another week or two."
Last Thursday opened a two-week window for teams to apply the franchise or transition tag to their players. The franchise tag pays a player the average of the top five players at his position. The transition tag does the same for the top 10 and gives a club the ability to match any offer that player may receive.
Although some teams are applying the tags on their potential free agents, the NFL Players Association plans to fight the issue because the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement on March 4 could mean the end of the tags.
"We've always done a very good job keeping our core young talent," Spielman said. "I'm sure as we finalize this thing that those guys we want to have back on this roster, and we want to keep our youth and our guys on this roster. I'll just leave it at that."
Spielman said the Vikings personnel department and coaches spent last week going through the free agents who will hit the market if and when a new CBA is in place. This week that focus has shifted to draft preparation, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Vikings officials will depart early next week for the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Asked how difficult it is knowing that the April draft could fall before free agency, if there is a lockout, Spielman said: "All we’re doing is we’re just preparing. I don't know whether there’s free agency or not free agency or what’s going to happen with the CBA, I don’t know what’s going to happen with that. Our job is to just go through our normal procedures, our normal time line on making sure we have everything in place regardless of what’s going to happen in the future.
"If something gets done or something doesn’t get done for a while, we’re ready on that side. I know there’s no change in the draft procedures or when the draft is going to be. So we’re doing our normal process and normal procedures on that side as well.”
Randy Moss' second stint with the Vikings officially came to an end on Tuesday.
The Vikings placed the wide receiver on waivers, according to Fox Sports and ESPN. That means there now will be a 24-hour process in which he can be claimed. The deadline for teams to claim Moss will be 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The top 10 teams in order of waiver claims are Buffalo (0-7), Carolina (1-6), Dallas (1-6), San Francisco (2-6), Denver (2-6), Detroit (2-5), Vikings (2-5), Cincinnati (2-5), Cleveland (2-5), San Diego (3-5).
Moss will be owed the balance of his $6.4 million salary ($3.888 million) if he is claimed. If he passes through waivers the Vikings will owe Moss the remaining $3.888 million on his deal and another team could sign him as a free agent for approximately $450,000.
The decision by Vikings coach Brad Childress to jettison Moss after four games with the team has caused big controversy and questions about Childress' job security because of the way he handled this move. Childress told his players on Monday he was going to waive Moss but he was not placed on waivers by the 3 p.m. deadline.
Moss, who was selected by the Vikings in the first round of the 1998 draft and played for the team through 2004, had 13 receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns in four games with Minnesota.
While the move did not become official until 3 p.m., the Vikings weekly game release that was put out earlier in the afternoon had Moss being waived in its roster moves section.
A quote that was attributed to Randy Moss' agent, Joel Segal, that ran in the Access Vikings blog Monday was not from Segal but rather someone posing as him on what proved to be a phony e-mail account. The Star Tribune regrets the error.
After seven weeks of being on crutches, Sidney Rice is finally able to walk into the Vikings' locker room at Winter Park with no assistance.
The wide receiver ditched his crutches on Tuesday after receiving the go-ahead a day earlier from his doctor in Vail, Colo. That is where Rice had surgery on his hip in August.
"He said everything looked good," Rice said today. "I was supposed to be done with [the crutches] Friday but I'm done with them now. .. Everything has been feeling good. It hasn't been giving me any problems. I've been walking around and walking on the treadmill, things like that with [my full] body weight."
It's Sunday morning, but it's the start of the work week for the Vikings, who return to practice to begin preparations for their season opener against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
The team has practice at 11:50 a.m. with media access afterward. Lots going on today. Brett Favre and Brad Childress will hold their weekly press conferences. We also have our first locker room media access of the season.
We also have conference calls with Saints coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees.
The Vikings will announce their practice squad shortly. We also will see if they make any additional roster moves to address depth concerns at cornerback and wide receiver.
We'll have plenty of updates throughout the day so check back.
Considering many think it's an unlucky place to wind up Jared Allen might want to avoid this honor.
According to ESPN, the Vikings defensive end is one of three players in the running to be on the front of the box for "Madden NFL '11." New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and Indianapolis wide receiver Reggie Wayne are the other candidates.
For the first time, according to ESPN, fans will be able to decide if Allen, Brees or Wayne gets his image placed on the cover. The voting starts today and fans can go to www.doritoschangethegame.com and vote daily through March 15. EA Sports likely will announce the winner around the NFL draft.
It's also worth noting, the Vikings have started making roster moves with an eye toward the 2010 season. The team has signed 10 players to futures contracts. That includes every player who finished the 2009 season on their practice squad. Here's that list: Safety Colt Anderson; offensive tackles Patrick Brown, Chris Clark and Drew Radovich; running back Ian Johnson; defensive tackle Tremaine Johnson; wide receiver Vinny Perretta; and cornerback DeAndre Wright.
The Vikings also signed wide receiver Taye Biddle and running back James Johnson.
Biddle, who played at Mississippi, was active for two games with Carolina in 2006 but has bounced around practice squads since then, making stops with Tampa Bay and the New York Giants. Johnson rushed for 29 yards on nine carries with Cincinnati in four games in 2008 and was on the Bengals practice squad this past season.