As we know, this weekend the Vikings will take their 3-2 mark to Seattle to take on the 4-1 Seahawks.
The story surrounding this game is the Steve Hutchinson/Nate Burleson saga from this past off-season. For those of you that forgot (both of you. . .seriously, come on now), the sequence of events went like this.
-NFL season ends
-Seahawks decide to save themselves $600K by placing the "transition" tag on unrestricted free agent G Steve Hutchinson instead of the "franchise" tag. This guarantees Hutchinson a salary of at least the average of the top 10 salaries at his position, and gives Seattle the right to match any offer, but receive no compensation if they choose not to.
-Vikings offer restricted free agent WR Nate Burleson a low tender offer, meaning that any team can sign him to an offer sheet, and give a 3rd round pick to the Vikings if they choose not to match
-Free agency begins
-Vikings sign Hutchinson a completely legal offer sheet, with a clause that states if Hutchinson isn't the highest-paid OL on the team, the entire $49 million contract is guaranteed. Seattle OT Walter Jones makes more than Hutchinson, meaning the Seahawks can't match the offer without guaranteeing Hutchinson's entire deal.
-Seattle files grievance, and attempts to circumvent the offer sheet by restructuring Jones' deal. Arbitrator says "no dice."
-Seattle doesn't match offer sheet, Hutchinson signs with Minnesota.
-Seattle signs Burleson to another completely legal offer sheet, with clauses that guarantee Burleson's entire $49 million contract if he plays more than 5 home games in the state of Minnesota. Obviously, the Vikings can't match this, and Burleson signs with Seattle, with the Seahawks' third-round pick going to Minnesota in exchange.
How's it worked out so far?
Well, on Seattle's end, Burleson is currently the #4 WR on their depth chart (behind Darrell Jackson, Deion Branch, and D.J. Hackett) and will probably drop to #5 when Bobby Engram is healthy again. Speaking of drops, he's been doing that a lot as well, with 4 of them so far this season. To this point, based on the guaranteed money in his contract, he's averaging about $700K per reception, and roughly $5 million per touchdown.
As far as Minnesota, their offense has gotten better. In 2005, the Vikes were 25th in the league in total offense, and currently rank 12th this year. Their rushing offense has jumped from 27th to 17th, and the pass offense has moved up from 20th to 9th. And to think. . .the Vikings' offense is still feeling themselves out and coming together at this point.
Oh. . .and making signings of players that aren't particularly spectacular out of spite is usually a bad thing.
Game preview coming up tomorrow. . .frankly, the more I look at this game, the more winnable it appears. Does that mean the Vikes WILL win? I don't know. But it will be interesting, in any event.