Burleson heads to Seattle as Vikings fail to match deal
The Vikings failed to match the seven-year, $49 million offer sheet wide receiver Nate Burleson signed with the Seahawks, allowing the Seattle native to go home.
Two poison pills that would have guaranteed the $49 million influenced the Vikings' decision not to match. The Seahawks inserted a clause that would have guaranteed the contract if he played five games in the state of Minnesota.
The other clause was one in which the contract would be guaranteed if his $7 million salary average was higher than the average of his team's highest-paid running back. Minnesota's Chester Taylor is making around $4 million a year.
The poison pills caused some consternation at the league meetings this week, and outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue said such loopholes were "not in the spirit" of the NFL's agreement with the players' union.
The Seahawks wanted Burleson because of his speed and athleticism at the wide receiver position. They will give the Vikings a third-round choice because Burleson was a restricted free agent who was tendered at $712,600.
A week ago, the Seahawks didn't match the seven-year, $49 million transition offer sheet signed by Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson and let him go to the Vikings. The poison pill involved Hutchinson being the highest paid offensive linemen on the team. Left tackle Walter Jones makes $7.5 million for the Seahawks.
The Vikings appeared to be lukewarm in trying to keep Burleson. They were offering him a three-year, $6 million deal when the Seahawks came in and offered him four years at $14.5 million. The Vikings then made the offer of four-year, $14.5 million.
To prevent the Vikings from matching the offer, the Seahawks added $34.5 million to the final three years of the contract to puff up the average so it was significantly higher than the Vikings running back's.
"This is a dream come true for Nate," his agent, Ken Sarnoff, said. "That seven years after being named the Seattle high school athlete of the year, he now plays for the Seahawks."
The Seahawks owe the Vikings a third-round pick, based on Burleson's draft position in 2003. Minnesota now has two third-rounders and two second-rounders.
John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.