MEDIA Ex-Viking Williams now a Bengal : LUSENET : Purple : One Thread

Published: Wednesday, March 7, 2001

Ex-Viking Williams now a Bengal

Pioneer Press

---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- BILL WILLIAMSON STAFF WRITER ---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- Another Vikings defender cashed in Tuesday. This time, it was Tony Williams in Cincinnati. The 6-foot-1, 290-pound defensive tackle signed a four-year, $11 million contract with the Bengals. He received a $4 million signing bonus. Kyle Rote Jr., the agent for the unrestricted free agent, had courtesy talks with the Vikings about re-signing Williams. But the salary-cap strapped Vikings had no chance to re-sign Williams, a fifth-round draft choice in 1997. Williams is the third Vikings defensive starter to sign a lucrative deal since Saturday. John Randle, who was released Thursday, signed a $25 million contract with Seattle on Saturday. Free-agent linebacker Dwayne Rudd signed a $23 million deal with Cleveland on Sunday. The three players combined for $59 million -- $14.7 million in signing bonuses -- in free-agent contracts. The Vikings finished 28th in the NFL in overall defense last season. Williams had 43 tackles and four sacks last season. Williams likely will be replaced by Fernando Smith in the starting lineup. Smith is an unrestricted free agent, but the Vikings are talking to his agent and he's expected back. The standstill between the Vikings and offensive tackle Todd Steussie continued Tuesday. The two sides have not talked in five days. Steussie is due a $1 million roster bonus March 15 and is expected to be released by that date. The Vikings would trim more than $2 million off the salary cap by cutting Steussie. A Vikings source said the team is exploring options. One option is to retain Steussie and try to trim salary-cap room elsewhere, which would be a similar approach the team took with Randle last year after he refused to restructure his contract. Another option would be a trade. At this point, the release appears to be the most likely scenario. Steussie has told friends he will not take a pay cut. Team sources said the Vikings will not budge, either. Steussie is due to have a salary-cap number of $7.3 million next season. The Vikings want him to renegotiate a deal that would pay him $4 million a season. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins still have an interest in Vikings free-agent receiver Matthew Hatchette, who visited Miami on Monday. The Dolphins will bring in more receivers this week, and Hatchette may not hear from Miami for a week or so. Also, the Vikings have an interest in restricted free-agent Brandon Whiting of Philadelphia. It would cost the Vikings a fourth-round draft pick to sign Wh

-- Mark (Karch, March 07, 2001

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