Interesting bit that came across the Twitter from Sirius/XM NFL Radio guy Adam Caplan.
This is a bit of a surprise to me as well. There are three levels of restricted free agency tenders that teams can offer to their players. A team can choose to tender a player at the first-round level, meaning a salary of $2.879 million for the next season, and any team that signs them away owes the player's former team a first-round pick as compensation. There's also a second-round tender, which is worth $2.023 million.
Then there's the lowest level, or the "original draft round" tender, which in this case is $1.323 million. This is just what it sounds like. . .if a team signs a player away, they have to give the player's former team compensation equal to the round in which they were drafted. For example, if the Vikings signed someone from another team that was under this tender that was a fifth-round pick, they would have to send a fifth-round pick away as compensation.
In this case, however, it would cost nothing because Danario Alexander entered the league as an undrafted free agent. Therefore, if the Vikings made him an offer and the Chargers chose not to match it, the Vikings would owe San Diego nothing in compensation. The Chargers would have the opportunity to match any offer that the Vikings might make, but the Vikings would be setting the price point.
EDIT: A bit of clarification. . .the "salary" figures above are not necessarily what the player would get from their potential new team. That would be worked out in an offer sheet. However, if another team doesn't try to sign them away, that's the salary they'd get from their current team in 2013. My apologies if this created any confusion.
And that could be big, because Danario Alexander sounds like the kind of guy Rick Spielman would take a run at. He's a big receiver, measuring in at 6'5" and around 220 pounds, and he can stretch the field, as he's averaged 16.8 yards per catch over his NFL career. Granted, he only has 83 career receptions in three seasons (two in St. Louis and one in San Diego), but was fairly impressive for the Chargers in 2012. In ten games (seven starts), Alexander caught 37 passes for 658 yards (a whopping 17.8 yards/catch) and seven touchdowns. Impressive considering that his first game for the Chargers last season came in Week 7.
If the Chargers do tender Danario Alexander at the lowest level, it would not surprise me one bit to see the Vikings go after him hard. Hopefully the Chargers do just that and give Minnesota an opportunity to bring him in.
EDIT again: And, of course, if the Chargers tender him at the first or second-round level, forget I said any of this, because Alexander would officially be off the radar at that point, I think.