Vikings don't use franchise, transition tags

SOMEWHERE OVER DETROIT -- Good evening from the friendly skies, where I'm meandering toward Bristol for an ESPN NFL Nation summit. We aim to have all of the league's problems solved by the time we depart Wednesday, but the perils of air travel might take a little longer to fix.

After flying from Minneapolis to O'Hare this morning, I found out my airline decided to cancel my next flight, rebooking me on a plane to Hartford six hours later. Why the cancellation, you ask? Bad weather? Mechanical issues? Nope. They apparently couldn't find a flight attendant, and instead decided to send a plane full of people scurrying to make other plans. Fortunately, another airline was there to step in, with an affordable flight from Chicago to Hartford by way of Detroit.

Anyway, in my experience, you're all thoroughly bored with the travel gripes of reporters, so I'll stop now. You're probably looking for Vikings news, and as the headline to this post would suggest, the Vikings made some by not using their franchise or transition player tags before Monday's deadline.

That wasn't a big surprise -- general manager Rick Spielman said at the NFL combine the Vikings weren't likely to use their franchise tag and reiterated it to a group of reporters at the University of Minnesota's pro day Monday morning. But it does mean the Vikings have one fewer method of retaining defensive end Everson Griffen -- and in a less plausible scenario, defensive end Jared Allen -- before the start of free agency March 11.

Griffen's camp has been in talks with the Vikings on a new deal, and he's said he wants to stay in Minnesota, though it remains to be seen if he'd attract attention on the open market from teams who believe he could play linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. I still think it's likely he'll remain with the Vikings on a new deal. Allen, however, seems likely to head elsewhere after making more than $14 million last season.

It will be interesting to see what kind of market develops for him just before he turns 32, and whether he'll have to catch on with a team as a situational pass rusher. Allen had previously said he'd retire before accepting that kind of a role, but there are plenty of people around the league who believe he'll think differently once he gets on the open market. The Vikings could bring him back to play that kind of role, but with veteran players, pride tends to factor into that kind of a decision. Antoine Winfield signed with the Seahawks instead of coming back to the Vikings on a reduced contract last year, and Allen might try to find a team with more championship pieces in place than the Vikings currently have.

The Vikings can start negotiating with free agents late Friday evening, and they can begin to sign players at 3 p.m. Central time next Tuesday. The good