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What's Birk Worth?
By: Viking Update Staff
Matt Birk has said publicly he wants to stay with the Vikings and expects to stay with the Vikings. The Vikings have said they want him and expect to keep him, but, thanks to contract talks that are millions apart, it isn't going to happen soon.
Matt Birk is Harvard man with an Ivy League education. He doesn't get involved in contract negotiations, although he has said on his weekly radio show on KFAN-Radio that he expects to get a contract done and wants to stay with the Vikings -- a sentiment echoed by team officials.
But at what price? The Vikings broke off negotiations with Birk Monday -- he's expected to sign a one-year tender offer for a little more than $1.1 million today -- because, as of now, the sides are light years apart.
The Vikings are looking at a contract that will last about five years at about $2 million to $2.5 million a season, while Birk's agent, as reported here a couple of weeks ago, is standing firm on making Birk the highest paid center in the NFL with a contract approaching $4 million a year. As of now, Jeff Christy, who Birk replaced, is the highest paid center in the league and his contract averages about $3.6 million a season. Is Birk worth $4 million a year? The Vikings don't believe ANY center is worth that kind of money. However, he likely is worth more than $2 million a season.
Expect talks to resume something before the start of the regular season, but, if the sides remain this far apart when negotiations begin again, don't be too surprised if the Vikings have to start grooming yet another replacement for a Pro Bowl center.
TUESDAY NOTES * The Tampa Bay Bucs upped the ante again for the NFC Central title. After spending big money last year to add Christy, Randall McDaniel and Keyshawn Johnson to their offense, the Bucs signed former Viking Brad Johnson to five-year, $28 million contract Monday. Tampa Bay stepped up the bidding process to move past Baltimore, which also lost out on Johnson when the Redskins stepped up with an additional draft pick -- which the Vikings used in a package trade with the Steelers to get Jim Kleinsasser. After claiming Shaun King was their QB of the future, the Bucs have acquired Johnson and Ryan Leaf in the last week, leaving King's standing in some doubt.
* Kailee Wong hasn't signed his tendered offer yet, which has led some to believe he and the Vikings are still talking long-term contract.
* The Vikings re-signed wide receiver Joey Kent to a one-year contract Monday.
* A VU source with the Eagles said that linebacker James Darling is going to be touring the NFL in the coming weeks and that the Vikings are interested in seeing him. However, with as many as a half-dozen teams interested, it's unlikely that the Vikings will be able to meet his contract demands.
* Matthew Hatchette was scheduled to tour the Saints facility in New Orleans this week, but, with the signing of former Redskin Albert Connell, that visit was scratched.
* The agent for free agent DT Ted Washington of Buffalo said the Bengals are dragging their feet on making Washington a contract offer in case they can sign Tony Williams, who would come
-- Mark (Karch firstname.lastname@example.org), March 07, 2001