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Vikings wrapping up talks with Thomas

Kevin Seifert Star Tribune Tuesday, February 27, 2001

The Vikings are wrapping up contract talks with free safety Orlando Thomas, according to league sources. The move would ensure the veteran's return and, in exchange, Thomas will agree to take a substantial pay cut after determining that league-wide interest would be minimal on the free agent market.

The terms of Thomas' new contract were unavailable. He was scheduled to make $1.775 million in 2001, but it is believed he agreed to reduce his base salary by more than $1 million. The veteran's minimum for 2001 is $477,000. Thomas' agent, Mark Bartelstein, did not return phone calls.

Meanwhile, it appears defensive lineman John Randle has expressed a willingness to restructure his contract for salary cap purposes but is still refusing to take a straight pay cut. The Vikings were in contact Monday with agent Gary Uberstine but reached no common ground, and Randle remains a strong candidate for release by Thursday's deadline to get under the $67.4 million cap.

There was no progress in the team's effort to secure cap-friendly extensions for offensive tackle Todd Steussie and strong safety Robert Griffith.

Steussie has refused the Vikings' offer, believed to be a five-year contract covering 2001-05. The offer includes a $5 million signing bonus but would apparently average less than the $4.4 million of his current deal. As a result, Steussie is also facing release.

Griffith has one year remaining on his contract and is seeking an extension in line with the league's top safeties. His release is also a possibility, but Griffith's standing with coach Dennis Green is believed to be stronger than that of Steussie.

The Vikings continued talks on a long-term contract with center Matt Birk. Both sides have modified their initial proposals, but it is unclear whether a resolution will come before Thursday.

"The truth is we want to get it done and they want to get it done," agent Joseph Linta said. "It just has to be something that they can feel good about and something that we can feel good about."

-- Clark (, February 27, 2001

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