The agent for Minnesota Vikings center Matt Birk said Tuesday afternoon that he was informed by a team official that his client will be placed on injured reserve, which means the four-time Pro Bowl performer will miss the entire 2005 season.
"I got a voice mail saying they are going to 'I.R.' Matt, and that they were claiming an offensive lineman off waivers," agent Joe Linta told ESPN.com. "So that's it. The crazy thing is, Matt is supposed to meet with [new Vikings owner Zygi] Wilf on Wednesday. I don't know what that conversation will be about."
The decision to place Birk on injured reserve is not too surprising. Birk acknowledged last week, after deciding to undergo surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in his left hip, that he would probably miss the entire season. The rehabilitation period for such surgery is about three months, and both Birk and Linta conceded it was unlikely that the Vikings would keep the veteran center on the roster on the chance he might be able to return for the last month of the season.
Despite pain that he has termed "excruciating," and the need for a fifth surgery in little more than a year to address chronic abdominal and hip injuries, Birk said last week that he was willing to try to play the 2005 season with the aid of painkillers, but only if the club guaranteed his 2006 salary of $3.94 million.
Vikings officials opted not to make such a guarantee and Birk subsequently scheduled the surgery, which is set for next week in New York.
Linta had proposed that the Vikings essentially guarantee Birk's 2006 salary of $3.94 million, perhaps by signing him to a contract extension which included a signing bonus commensurate to that amount. Birk is currently under contract through 2008, and is due total base salaries of $17.14 million for that period, although that is not guaranteed.
Birk, 29, underwent surgery on May 31 to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. Then, two weeks ago, a specialist apprised him that he required surgery to repair a similar problem with his left hip. The eight-year veteran has also undergone three procedures since August 2004 to repair sports hernias.
The sports hernia surgeries limited Birk to 12 games, and 11 starts, in 2004. Following the May surgery on his right hip, Birk needed nearly three months of rehabilitation before being cleared to return to training camp practices. It is believed the hip problems are related to the sports hernias, the manner in which Birk attempted to compensate for them, and his haste in returning to the field following each of those procedures.
Birk acknowledged last week that he has probably done more harm than good, in the long run, by coming back too quickly from the hernia surgeries.