MEDIA Randle pushed aside by Vikings' salary cap maneuvers : LUSENET : Purple : One Thread

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2001

Randle pushed aside by Vikings' salary cap maneuvers

Veteran end will be released

Pioneer Press

---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- BILL WILLIAMSON STAFF WRITER ---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- In the end, John Randle simply didn't want to return to the Vikings all that badly. Two days after Randle showed interest in returning and five days after Vikings coach Dennis Green went public with his confidence that the defensive lineman would come back, the sides agreed to part ways. The Vikings are expected to release Randle today. A spokesman for Randle's agent confirmed that Randle will be released. Agent Gary Uberstine did not return several phone messages Wednesday. Green might issue a statement today about releasing Randle, a veteran of 11 seasons. ``It was a tough call,'' a Vikings source said. ``But it got to the point where something had to give.'' The path to parting with Randle took some twists and turns in the morning and was the main move in a busy day for the Vikings. While deciding to postpone extension talks with Matt Birk, the Vikings edged closer to getting under the salary cap by coming close to restructured deals for safety Robert Griffith and receiver Cris Carter. Griffith apparently will stay, but the Vikings are headed into the 11th hour concerning left tackle Todd Steussie, who at this point appears on his way to joining Randle out of town. The Vikings entered the offseason needing to cut more than $19 million to get to the $67.4 million salary-cap limit. All moves must be made by 3 p.m. CST today. The Vikings have until midnight to report them to the league. By restructuring the contracts of Ed McDaniel, Orlando Thomas and apparently Griffith, the Vikings avoided making them salary-cap victims. Randle could not be saved. The two sides decided to part ways in the morning but resumed negotiations shortly after. Early in the afternoon, however, a final decision was made. According to sources, the root of the final disagreement between Randle and the Vikings was his $2.025 million roster bonus, scheduled to be paid today. The team wanted to delay the payment until after June 1 of next year. Randle and Uberstine believed Randle would be a candidate to be cut next year, so they decided not to wait and forced the issue this season. The Vikings will save about $2.7 million by releasing Randle and they will not have to pay him the roster bonus. The team still owes Randle some of his prorated signing bonus. Randle, 33, who signed a new contract in 1998, was to count $8.2 million against the salary cap. He was to be the highest-paid player on the roster. The Vikings would have saved more than $4 million against the cap if they had waited to cut him after June 1. But by releasing Randle now, the team saves the roster-bonus money. Randle's release coupled with the pending restructuring of Carter and Griffith's deals will put the Vikings under the salary cap by $2 million to $4 million. Still, the Vikings wanted Randle to return and believed he would. Green said last Friday after meeting with Randle, he was ``confident'' and ``hopeful'' Randle would come back. Randle had asked for a trade in early February, but he softened his stance Monday by sending the team a proposal. It didn't call for a pay cut, but it did give the Vikings hope Randle would be come back. Last year, Randle refused to restructure his contract. Now that he will go on the open market, some believe Randle will not command a large contract. Several high-profile defensive lineman will be available on the market, and Randle's production declined significantly last season. Randle, who joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 1990, had just 31 tackles and eight sacks. It broke a eight-year streak in which he had at least 10 sacks a season. ``He should have stayed in Minnesota,'' one NFC general manager said. ``I wouldn't say he's done, but he's not a high-impact player anymore. He will not break the bank in free agency.'' Talks of extending the contract of Birk, a Pro Bowl center, will have to wait a week. The Vikings were making progress with Birk's agent, Joe Linta, earlier this week, but Wednesday, both sides agreed to talk next week. Birk was offered the first-round tender of $1.13 million. Any team interested in signing Birk would have to give the Vikings a first-round pick, and the Vikings would have seven days to match any offer. The Vikings also gave restricted free-agent middle linebacker Kailee Wong the first-round tender. Randle's brother-in-law, quarterback Todd Bouman, signed a multiyear contract with the Vikings. He was set to be a restricted free agent. Bouman willback up Daunte Culpepper. Last year's backup, Bubby Brister, is an unrestricted free agent and will not return. Randle married the sister of Bouman's wife, Courtney, last month. The Vikings did not give long snapper Mitch Palmer, or defensive backs Antonio Banks and Keith Thibodeaux tenders, making all three unrestict

-- Mark (Karch, March 01, 2001

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