Jim Kleinsasser will be back for an 11th season with the only NFL team he has ever played for.
Tight end Jim Kleinsasser agreed to a three-year, $9 million contract on Friday that will keep him in Minnesota for an 11th season. Kleinsasser, a second-round pick out of the University of North Dakota in 1999, expects to sign the deal this morning.
Kleinsasser had four offers from teams shortly after hitting the market at 11:01 p.m. Thursday but wanted to remain in the upper Midwest. He is from Carrington, N.D., and his wife, Christa, is from the Twin Cities area. "It's nice to have it all over with, that's for sure," he said. "Being able to stay here near our friends and family is nice. It would have been tough to leave Minnesota, but in the same aspect you want to get fair value."
Although he has only caught 17 passes over the past three seasons, Kleinsasser is a premier blocker and often helps out in protection.
"It was kind of nerve racking," Kleinsasser said of the free-agent process. "I don't know how to explain it but [negotiations with the Vikings were] dragging on, and I was like, 'What the heck are we doing here?' You get that in your mind and think, 'OK, let's kind of venture out.' But I'm glad things worked out the way they did."
Meanwhile, center Matt Birk, linebacker Heath Farwell and safety Darren Sharper remained on the market Friday. Birk's agent, Joe Linta, said his client is considering his options.
"We've had some calls this morning, and he's trying to decide where he's going to visit right now," Linta said. Linta made it clear that the Vikings remain an option. He did not want to name the teams that have called about Birk but the St. Paul native could make a visit as early as today.
Farwell, meanwhile, has drawn interest from six teams and might make a couple of trips early next week.Easing into free agency
The Vikings did not have any free agents in for a visit Friday at Winter Park, but Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman said that could change this weekend.
"We're working on that, going through that process right now," he said. "We had a lot of late-night conversations, or I should say early-morning conversations [Friday], and we're in the process of bringing in one or two guys."
Spielman, along with Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski and Director of Player Personnel George Paton, were at Winter Park until about 3:30 in the morning Friday talking to agents.
Among the players the Vikings are known to have interest in are wide receivers Nate Washington of Pittsburgh and Michael Clayton of Tampa Bay and cornerback Chris Carr of Tennessee. Detroit also likes all three players and the Lions played host to Washington on Friday. Washington is expected to sign with either the Lions or Titans. Clayton also was set to visit the Lions.
Carr is valuable because he would not only give the Vikings depth at cornerback but also is able to return kicks and punts. He averaged 28.1 yards on 35 kick returns last season and 10.1 yards on 32 punt returns.
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