MEDIA Randle agrees to rework contract : LUSENET : Purple : One Thread

Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Randle agrees to rework contract

Pioneer Press

---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- BILL WILLIAMSON STAFF WRITER ---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- On the day free safety Orlando Thomas agreed in principle to restructure his contract to stay with the Vikings, John Randle informed the team he's willing to work a deal, possibly softening his trade demand. After meeting with his agent Monday, Randle sent the Vikings a proposed restructured contract. The team is going over the proposal and is expected to resume discussions today with Randle. He refused to restructure last season and requested a trade this month. Thus, although no deal is imminent, the overwhelming feeling around Winter Park is that Randle, 33, will remain with the Vikings. He met with coach Dennis Green last week, and Green said Friday he was confident and hopeful Randle would return for his 12th season with the Vikings. Randle's proposal is believed to be for significantly less than the $8 million-plus salary cap number he has for this season. Although the Vikings would like to lower the proposal, sources say they believe they have a good starting point. By significantly restructuring Randle's contract this week, the Vikings would get close to the $64.7 million salary cap limit, which they need to do by midnight Thursday. They made progress Monday with Thomas' new deal. Thomas' agent, Mark Bartelstein, would not release details. The Vikings do not discuss contract specifics. It is believed the Vikings saved about $2 million with the restructuring. Thomas' salary cap figure for this season was about $4 million, and it now is about $2 million, according to sources. The Vikings still need to trim about $4 million to $5 million to get under the cap. ``Orlando is relieved to get the deal done,'' Bartelstein said. ``He wanted to be back, and the Vikings wanted him back, so it's nice to come to an agreement.'' Thomas joins Ed McDaniel as players who restructured to save their jobs. It was expected Thomas would be a salary cap casualty. On Friday night, Bartelstein was shopping Thomas around the league, seeing if there would be a better deal if he were released. Thomas is expected to retain his starting position. He missed eight games, including the NFC championship game, because of injuries last season. The Vikings made no progress with offensive tackle Todd Steussie and strong safety Robert Griffith. Both are balking at restructuring their deals and could be released by Thursday night if no progress is made. At this point, Steussie appears to be a more realistic candidate for release, although the Vikings' stance could change dramatically if Randle takes a major pay cut. Still, talks have deteriorated between Steussie and the team, and they are far apart. The Vikings want Steussie, who has a salary cap figure of more than $7 million, to take a reduction that would bring his deal to about $4 million annually. Steussie does not want to take a pay cut. Team sources indicated Monday that the Vikings do not plan to raise their offer, thus setting the stage for Steussie to be cut and putting backup Brad Badger in the starting lineup. The Vikings are making progress in their attempt to extend the contract of restricted free-agent center Matt Birk. The team and Birk's agent, Joe Linta, traded proposals Monday. According to sources, the sides are close to a six-year deal that would pay the Cretin-Derham Hall graduate an average of more than $3 million a season. The sides may be as close $2 million apart on the total package. ``We're having good dialogue,'' Linta said. ``In my opinion, we are getting closer than getting further apart.'' Agent Mitch Frankel, who represents Griffith and Cris Carter, said Monday he is talking to the Vikings about rest

-- Mark (Karch, February 27, 2001

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