Defensive end Ray Edwards is staying away from the Vikings' offseason program largely because he is upset that he did not become an unrestricted free agent last March. (The fact he did not get a long-term offer from the team doesn't help matters either.)
Edwards has four years of NFL service and in previous years would have been free to shop his services. But that was no longer the case this year because with the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire after 2010 players needed six years of service to become unrestricted. Edwards, instead, was a restricted free agent and received a first-round tender offer from the Vikings, meaning he will make $2.5 million in 2010.
Edwards is well within his rights to train away from Winter Park because the offseason workout program and Organized Team Activities, which begin next week, are voluntary. The mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 11-13 is mandatory, but according to NFL sources Edwards doesn't plan to attend that three-day event either.
Because Edwards has yet to sign his tender he can do this. Edwards likely will sign just before June 15. That is the date on which the Vikings could drop their tender offer to 110 percent of Edwards' 2009 base salary.
Edwards' absence would appear to be good news for Brian Robison and fourth-round pick Everson Griffen. Those two likely will get the majority of the snaps at left end during the offseason camps. Jayme Mitchell and newcomer Mike Montgomery also could get extra snaps.
While the Vikings might not be happy that Edwards is staying away, it does not appear the organization has any interest in trying to trade him. That means Edwards could play the 2010 season with the Vikings for $2.5 million and then hit the unrestricted free-agent market once there is a new CBA in place.