If Smith returns to NFL, he would be a free agent

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Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2001


If Smith returns to NFL, he would be a free agent

Pioneer Press ---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- BILL WILLIAMSON STAFF WRITER ---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- There is nothing binding Robert Smith to the Vikings. If the tailback decides to return to the game he abruptly retired from last week, he would be a free agent and not the property of the Vikings, for whom he played his entire eight-season career. According to an NFL spokesman, because Smith was to become a free agent, he doesn't have any ties to the Vikings. He doesn't have to send the league any official retirement papers, nor do the Vikings have to wait for Smith to make any official moves with the league. Smith, who retired Feb. 7, was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent beginning March 2 and was expected to garner much interest, particularly from the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots. Smith refused to comment when reached at his Cleveland-area home. Those close to Smith said there is a possibility Smith, who will turn 29 on March 4, could return and become a free agent. But it's unlikely. A major reason Smith retired was his health. He recently had his third knee surgery. ``It's a possibility that Robert could return, but I'd be surprised,'' said his agent, Neil Cornrich. ``When he makes decisions, they're usually very solid, as I expect this to be. But there's always interest in players like Robert.'' Smith will remain active with the NFL Players Association. He recently was re-elected to the NFLPA executive council and will serve two more years.

Cap concerns: The Vikings still are figuring a way to trim about $19 million from their payroll to meet the March 2 salary cap deadline. Because Smith retired, the Vikings owe him a prorated salary of $6.41 million. They must find a way to pay it during the next two years. The team likely will try to work out a deal with Smith to pay most of the money later. Because they will save much more money by releasing high-salary players after June 1, the Vikings will make cap room mostly by restructuring deals by March 2. Low-salary players such as Brad Badger, John Burrough and Gabe Northern are likely salary-cap victims in the coming weeks. High-salary players such as John Randle, Ed McDaniel and Orlando Thomas likely will be released after June 1. The Vikings started the maneuvering Monday by rescinding the contract of kick returner David Palmer. They saved $700,000 with the move. Briefly: A Scottsdale, Ariz., city prosecutor spokesman confirmed Tuesday that Vikings receiver Chris Walsh was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on Saturday. He will have to serve at least 12 days of a 30-day sentence for driving while under the influence of alcohol. The final 18 days of the sentence will be suspended if Walsh completes alcohol screening and counseling. * Rob Brzezinski was offered a job by the Washington Redskins, in addition to the expansion Houston Texans, before he extended his contract with the Vikings. Brzezinski, who oversees the Vikings' salary cap and contract negotiations, is now a vice president. Vice president Mike Kelly said the team is continuing to interview for replacements for senior football administrator Russ Ball and director of marketing Terri Huml, who both left last month. Kelly said replacements could be hired next week.

* The Vikings signed running back Marvin Wel

-- Mark (Karch 222@aol.com), February 14, 2001


Based on what I've read (along with a "gut feeling"), I highly doubt that Robert Smith will return to the game.

* The Vikings signed running back Marvin Wel

Who is Marvin Wel???

-- Clark (cdvike@mindspring.com), February 14, 2001.

Yea, who IS Marvin Wel?

-- Deb Cross (debcross2000@aol.com), February 15, 2001.

Clark and Debbie asked "Yea, who IS Marvin Wel?<<

He's the lead singer in Denny's band.

-- Mark (Karch 222@aol.com), February 16, 2001.

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