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.”
- Spielman made it clear he would like to swing a trade to get a third-round pick. The Vikings gave up their third-rounder to New England in the trade for wide receiver Randy Moss last season.