| ||EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings have told
quarterback Jeff George that they cannot sign him right now,
advising him to instead begin testing the free-agent market.
Leigh Steinberg, George's agent, said coach Dennis Green told
him the Vikings are prioritizing their limited salary-cap money for
re-signing punter Mitch Berger.
George led the Vikings to a 9-3 record last season, but seems to
be out of the team's long-range plans. Green had not confirmed that
sentiment until speaking with Steinberg last week.
"They might come back to us later," Steinberg said, "but
(Green) said to go ahead and explore your options. Jeff's
preference is still to come back to Minnesota, but we're in the
early phases of exploring what potential options there would be."
Green is believed to favor pushing up the timetable for
first-round draft choice Daunte Culpepper as the team's starting
quarterback for next season.
George finished the season with a 94.2 quarterback rating, but
his market value is still unclear. What is clear is that George has
expressed more interest in staying with the Vikings than the team
has in re-signing him.
"Other teams have called, but we're just not aggressive in it
yet," Steinberg said. "We're sort of putting them off, just to
make sure. Why? Because you're not going to find that offensive
line, those two wide receivers and that running back combination
Meanwhile, the Berger talks have progressed slowly, said agent
Tom Mills. The team was expected to offer Berger a new five-year
deal, but he is expected to take a free-agency visit to the Kansas
To make room under the salary cap, the Vikings have reworked the
contracts of at least seven players: wide receiver Cris Carter,
nose tackle Jerry Ball, guard David Dixon, strong safety Robert
Griffith, linebacker Ed McDaniel, kick returner David Palmer,
tackle Todd Steussie and free safety Orlando Thomas.
Defensive tackle John Randle has refused to restructure his
contract, and quarterback Randall Cunningham refused a pay cut.
"I was happy to cooperate, but Johnny (Randle) won't go along
with it," Carter said. "There's no way we can win if guys don't
do that. It's being done all over the league these days. It's what
you have to do to have a chance. If you don't do it, you're playing
with a shorter deck."
Center Jeff Christy, also a free agent who the Vikings say they
cannot afford, is reportedly close to a deal with division rival
Ex-Viking Christy now Bucs' center of attention