The deadline passed Tuesday afternoon and for the eighth straight offseason the Vikings did not use the franchise or transition tags to retain a departing free agent.
The futures of linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in Minnesota will be tied to whether General Manager Rick Spielman and the players’ representatives can agree on lucrative contract extension. Other teams can legally negotiate with Barr and Richardson starting Monday and sign them March 13.
Vikings brass has long sought to re-sign Barr but have not yet reached an agreement. Barr’s market value could exceed their spending power in the coming days.
The Vikings are also interested in retaining other free agents such as safety Anthony Harris, RB Latavius Murray, guard Nick Easton and returner Marcus Sherels, but face a tight salary cap situation. QB Trevor Siemian is also unsigned.
Six NFL teams used the franchise tag — five to keep front-seven defenders, including Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence, Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney, Seattle’s Frank Clark, Kansas City’s Dee Ford and Atlanta’s Grady Jarret. The 49ers tagged kicker Robbie Gould.
The Patriots did not apply the tag to kicker Stephen Gostkowski, meaning he can become a free agent next week.
The Vikings’ last franchise tag was applied to linebacker Chad Greenway in 2011.
C.J. Ham to be re-signed
The Vikings plan to re-sign exclusive rights free agent C.J. Ham ahead of the March 13 deadline, according to a league source. The 25-year-old fullback from Duluth maintained a role last season despite the Vikings’ disappearing running game. His 140 snaps ranked ninth among all NFL fullbacks.
Ham’s one-year deal will be worth $645,000.
More decisions on role players will come. Punter Matt Wile is also an exclusive rights free agent, meaning if the Vikings offer him a contract his only choice is to sign or not play football. Harris and tackle Rashod Hill are restricted free agents. They can negotiate with other teams next week, but the Vikings can match offers.
Moss mentors prospect
Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss has taken notice of Andy Isabella, who is an unassuming 5 feet, 9 inches and 188 pounds. The NFL world has, too, as the former UMass receiver sprinted up draft boards with standout performances at the Senior Bowl and last week during the scouting combine.
The two connected through Isabella’s agent. Moss led workouts with Isabella and another prospect three times per week heading into the combine in Indianapolis, where Isabella led receivers with a 4.31-second 40-yard dash.
“He’s really tough on us about working, but I like that style of coaching,” Isabella said. “He would have us running like eight 40s and then five routes and then run eight more 40s full speed.”