NFL: Loadholt returns to Vikings but at a discount
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Vikings are bringing back tackle Phil Loadholt at a reduced price.A source said Monday that Loadholt has agreed to restructure his contract and will sign a one-year deal that has a base salary of $2 million and could be worth a...
MINNEAPOLIS - The Vikings are bringing back tackle Phil Loadholt at a reduced price.
A source said Monday that Loadholt has agreed to restructure his contract and will sign a one-year deal that has a base salary of $2 million and could be worth as much as $3.5 million with incentives.
Loadholt missed all of last season when he tore an Achilles’ tendon in an exhibition game. He originally was due to make $6 million in 2016, with a salary-cap figure of $7.75 million, and would have been released had he not agreed to the salary cut.
Loadholt, 30, also missed the final five games of the 2014 season with a shoulder injury, meaning he has not played in the Vikings’ past 21 regular-season games. The source said the tackle is banking on returning to health and putting himself in better position for his next contract.
When not hurt, Loadholt has been Minnesota’s starter at right tackle since he was a rookie in 2009. Rookie T.J. Clemmings filled in last year, and had his share of struggles.
At left tackle, the Vikings must decide whether to retain Matt Kalil, whose $11.096 million contract becomes fully guaranteed on Wednesday if he remains on the roster. Indications are the Vikings are likely to keep Kalil despite some of his difficulties in recent seasons.
The Vikings on Monday also re-signed receiver Adam Thielen and tackle Carter Bykowski, both exclusive rights free agents, and they gave a tender offer to fullback Zach Line to keep him a restricted free agent.
Thielen, who caught 12 passes last season for 144 yards and is a strong special-teams player, got a one-year, $600,000 deal. Bykowski, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, received a one-year $525,000 contract.
Safety Andrew Sendejo, who agreed to a deal Saturday, officially signed with the Vikings. His four-year contract could be worth as much as $16 million with incentives.
Sendejo started last season at strong safety, but his deal does not mean the Vikings won’t go after a different player to start alongside free safety Harrison Smith. They reached out Monday to representatives of Cincinnati free-agent safeties George Iloka and Reggie Nelson, whom Vikings coach Mike Zimmer once had when he was Bengals defensive coordinator.
Monday was the first day teams could talk to representatives of free agents on other teams. Such players cannot sign until Wednesday, the first day of the new league year.
Zimmer has great respect for Iloka, who will be 26 next season, and Nelson, who will be 33. Because he’s older and won’t be pursued as much in free agency, Nelson likely would be a less expensive option than Iloka.
Other free agents Minnesota expressed interest in Monday included Cincinnati linebacker Vincent Rey and Cleveland right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Zimmer, who was with the Bengals from 2008-13, also previously coached Rey.
The Vikings could use depth at linebacker. After safety, their most pressing need likely is on the offensive line.
Keeping Loadholt helps. The Vikings also are hopeful of re-signing starting right guard Mike Harris, who last week was offered a two-year, $3.5 million contract.
While Harris is continuing to ponder whether to accept the deal, the New York Giants expressed interest Monday in him. Harris made $1.542 million last season, so the Vikings only have offered a slight raise even though his play has received plenty of praise from Zimmer.
Retaining free agent Audie Cole could help at linebacker. Cole said his camp has been keeping in regular touch with Vikings, and that he wants to re-sign.
“I’d like to be back there,” Cole said. “I love the organization. It’s a good team and a great place to play.”
Minnesota has interest in re-signing running back Matt Asiata, who made $800,000 last season. However, a source said the sides are far apart in negotiations and that several other teams reached out Monday to Asiata’s camp.
Now that Loadholt has taken a pay cut, the Vikings will seek to restructure wide receiver Mike Wallace’s deal. If Wallace doesn’t agree to take a significant cut from the $11.5 million he is on the books for 2016, he will be released.
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