INDIANAPOLIS -- I joined a group of reporters who caught up Thursday with Rick Spielman, the Minnesota Vikings' vice president of player personnel. Most of our conversation revolved around the team's ongoing efforts to find a starting quarterback, a topic I'll be taking up at length Friday.
For now, I want to pass along a number of personnel hints, clues and assessments Spielman dropped on us. At the top of the list was the clear indication the Vikings want to sign three of their best young players -- linebacker Chad Greenway, receiver Sidney Rice and tailback Adrian Peterson -- to contract extensions.
The Vikings named Greenway their franchise player this week, a move that often leads to a long-term deal. That decision left Rice likely to be tendered as a restricted free agent, but Spielman said: "Hopefully we'll be able to get Sidney under contract this year."
Peterson, meanwhile, in essence has one year remaining under his original contract. (It technically extends through 2012, but the final year is voidable.) Because of several escalators, Peterson is scheduled to make a whopping $10.720 million base salary in 2011, giving him a salary cap figure of $12.775 million if the NFL returns to its previous accounting system.
We discussed the Vikings' complicated financial situation with Peterson last spring, noting his high 2011 salary but also recognizing that running backs have shorter career spans than other positions. As a result, there is a line of thought that suggests the best approach would be to let Peterson play out his deal and then determine his future on a yearly basis thereafter, possibly through franchise tags.
But Spielman indicated the Vikings will consider Peterson's deal after the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement is completed.
"That's going to have to get addressed," Spielman said. "Once we understand what we're dealing with, then we'll be able to address that."
A few other highlights from our conversation with Spielman:
Spielman was pretty noncommittal about re-signing linebacker Ben Leber, who will be an unrestricted free agent. "Are we going to keep everybody?" he said. "I don't know. Would you love to have Ben back? Ben's been a very good football player for us, done a lot of good things for us. I don't know where that's going to go to be honest with you."
In addition to Leber, there has been some discussion about the Vikings parting ways with some high-priced veterans who are still under contract. Safety Madieu Williams and receiver Bernard Berrian rank atop that list, but Spielman downplayed the possibility of any player movement before a new CBA. "Right now we're going to keep our roster status quo," he said. "I don't anticipate any moves."
Spielman reiterated the organization's commitment to troubled defensive end Everson Griffen and said he is confident Griffen can play an elevated role in 2011. Griffen has been arrested twice this month in Los Angeles and was also involved in organizing a Las Vegas party that USC school officials barred its players from attending. "You always look at that but I know [coach Leslie Frazier] and Everson had a pretty good conversation. I'll keep internally what's been discussed but we feel very confident in Everson. What he did, I'll leave that for Leslie to discuss. He is a very talented football player and felt very fortunate we were able to get him in the draft last year and showed signs of that as a rookie. Have a lot of high expectations for him going into next season." Two Vikings defensive ends, Ray Edwards and Brian Robison, are eligible for free agency this year.