MEDIA Birk expecting top dollar when contract talks resume : LUSENET : Purple : One Thread

Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2001


Birk expecting top dollar when contract talks resume

Pioneer Press

---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- BILL WILLIAMSON STAFF WRITER ---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- Although contract extension talks between the Vikings and Pro Bowl center Matt Birk are dormant, they are expected to resume negotiating with the mutual goal of reaching an agreement before next season. Although the sides have planned to talk, they haven't made contact in nearly a month. Birk, a restricted free agent, has signed a one-year tender worth $1.15 million. If he doesn't sign an extension, Birk, 24, will become an unrestricted free agent next year. ``When they call, we'll talk,'' said Joe Linta, Birk's agent. ``We know we want to get something done. There is no rush, though. As of now, Matt is planning on playing for the tender with hopes of getting something done.'' Vikings sources maintain the team wants to sign Birk to a long-term deal before the season. No date has been set to start negotiating. It's believed left tackle Todd Steussie was released last month partly because the team wants to re-sign Birk. Linta reiterated Monday that re-signing Birk will not come cheaply, pointing to Pittsburgh's recent signing of Jeff Hartings to a six-year, $24 million deal. Hartings, who joined the Steelers from Detroit, received a $5.75 million signing bonus. The Steelers are moving Hartings to center from guard. ``We'd expect a Pro Bowl center will be more valuable than a player who doesn't play the position,'' Linta said. Steve Baker, the agent for restricted free agent Kailee Wong, said the middle linebacker could sign his tender in the near future. The deadline is April 16 for restricted free agents to sign tenders. The Vikings gave Wong the first-round tender. Jacquet agrees to terms: The Vikings are bringing back receiver/kick returner Nate Jacquet. The sides agreed to terms Monday. It's believed Jacquet received the league-minimum salary. Jacquet was signed late last year with an eye on this season. He could be a candidate to be the team's fourth receiver if Chris Walsh doesn't re-sign. The Vikings want to bring Walsh back. Jacquet could end up in a battle for the No. 5 receiver's job and a fight for the kick returner's job with Troy Walters. Briefly: Coach Dennis Green and his staff are on vacation this week. They will return next week to prepare for the NFL draft, which will be April 21-22. . . . Free-agent running back Greg Hill has contacted the Vikings, but at this point, they have no interest. . . . Johnny McWilliams, the Vikings' former starting tight end, is talking with the Raiders, in addition to New England. The Vikings have no plan

-- Mark (Karch, April 03, 2001

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