Ray Edwards would rather box than play for Vikings under one-year tender

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards (91) listens for the crowd’s cheers after sacking New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) during the second quarter of their National Football League game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, January 3, 2010. Giants tackle David Diehl (66) is at left. Minnesota won the game. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Defensive end Ray Edwards told 1500 ESPN Twin Cities that he’d rather focus on his boxing career than play for the Vikings under his one-year tender.

“I’ve openly said I won’t play for the Vikings, because of the simple fact of my backup is getting paid 70 more percent than I am — there’s no way I can do that to myself. I’d rather do what I love doing. I love doing football as well. But if there’s nobody that’s going to trade for me, I will be definitely focusing on boxing.”

In case anyone was wondering if Edwards was harboring any hard feelings towards “his backup,” (Brian Robison) he’s not.

“I was happy for (Robison),” Edwards told 1500 ESPN. “He’s a definitely great guy. I love the guy off the field, love him on the field. Great teammate. I wished him all the best, because we both were up for contracts. So, I told him that more than likely they’re going to keep you because of the numbers situation.

“They’re paying Jared (Allen, who signed a six-year, $73.26 million contract in April 2008). You’ve got Kevin (Williams), who’s almost due for a contract and he’s been there forever and he’s a six-time Pro Bowler, I believe. I don’t know if they’re going to try to keep Pat (Williams) or not. It’s just a numbers game.

“In this business, and I understand that, sometimes there’s an odd man out, and I believe that I was always that odd man out.”

This goes against the cliched “it shouldn’t be about the money for athletes” that some writers love to overuse, but I actually don’t blame Edwards. The NFL is a nasty league and the life expectancy for players is short. Football is their career and they want long-term security just like your average Joe. Granted, athletes are making 10-times what your average Joe is, but it’s still the same concept in the end: they want to be financially set up for the long term.

Let’s say your contract is about to run up with your company and for the moment, let’s forget about the money involved. Instead of giving you a new three-year deal, your company hands you a one-year contract and on top of that, the guy under you is given a three-year deal. Assuming you deserved a raise, wouldn’t you feel a little disrespected by your company? If the answer is yes, then that’s how Ray Edwards feels.

That said, I still wouldn’t have handled the situation like Edwards is and he’s in for a rude awakening if he thinks he’s going to make more boxing than he is on that one-year tender. But I get why he’s frustrated and why he’s saying the things he is. He feels like he’s earned a long-term contract. (Although some fans feel like his production is a byproduct of playing opposite Jared Allen.)

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Vikings vs. Saints: Sizing up strengths and weaknesses

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 27: Drew Brees  of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass against the San Diego Chargers at the Louisiana Superdome on August 27, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

One of the many things that is intriguing about football is that the game can often be decided by just one facet of the contest, whether it be a team’s running strength verses its opponents weak run defense, or an elite quarterback being able to pick apart a porous secondary.

With that in mind, here are two key factors that could determine who gets the edge in the much-ballyhooed matchup between the Vikings and Saints tonight.

Saints’ strength vs. Vikings’ weakness
Seeing as how Brees usually beats teams with his arm, many people assume that the Saints’ strength is their passing game. But their true strength is in their balance and Sean Payton’s ability to adjust his game plan to take advantage of an opponent’s weakness. Minnesota’s weakness defensively is in its secondary, where injuries have left the unit thin as a whole. Antoine Winfield can certainly hold his own on the left side, but Lito Sheppard is often inconsistent in coverage, which isn’t good considering the two safeties (Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams) had trouble in pass defense last year. Brees knows how to beat teams up the seam and has plenty of weapons to attack the Vikings’ soft secondary. That said, it’s vital that he has enough time to throw or else his timing will be thrown off and Minnesota will be able to keep the game close. Jared Allen and Ray Edwards are the strength of the Vikings’ defense and the biggest weakness the Saints have offensively is left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who was exposed last year by DeMarcus Ware in a loss to the Cowboys. However, if Brees has time to throw, expect some big plays tonight for New Orleans.

Vikings’ strength vs. Saints’ weakness
It was interesting to watch the Vikings transform from a balanced squad last year to a team that predominantly relied on the pass with Brett Favre under center. But seeing as how Sidney Rice is out and questions remain about Favre’s ankle, the key for Minnesota tonight will be Adrian Peterson. Everyone knows what the Saints’ offense is capable of, which is why Minnesota needs to rely on AP to chew up the clock and keep Drew Brees and Co. on the sidelines. If they can’t establish the run against a soft New Orleans’ run defense (especially at defensive tackle), then don’t expect Favre to be able to attack the Saints’ secondary without his No. 1 wideout from a season ago. Brad Childress’ overall game plan tonight should be to control the tempo on the ground, control the clock and escape New Orleans with a victory.

Game time is set for 8:30PM ET on NBC.

NFL Notes: Mankins requests trade, Dumervil signs tender & McRath busted for PEDs

– According to the Boston Herald and Patriots’ beat writer Mike Reiss, guard Logan Mankins has requested a trade in wake of his current contract situation. Says Makins: “I don’t need to be here anymore. This is about principle with me and keeping your word and how you treat people.”

The Patriots aren’t big on handing out big contracts to guards (or anyone not named Tom Brady for that matter), but it’ll be interesting to see what approach they take now that Mankins has demanded a trade.

– The NFL has suspended Titans linebacker Gerald McRath four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He was expected to start this season after seeing extensive action last year as a rookie, but now it appears that David Thornton’s job is safe.

Speaking of the Titans, Chris Johnson continues to stay away from mini-camp in hopes that the team will give him a new contract. A resolution doesn’t appear to be in sight, as the Titans wants him to play on his current deal, which still has three years remaining on it. Of course if CJ decides to holdout through training camp, Tennessee could be forced to pony up. Johnson is without a doubt their most productive player.

Elvis Dumervil signed his one-year, $3.168 million tender with the Broncos on Monday. The Denver Post’s Lindsay Jones writes that the two parties will continue to work on a long-term deal, which Dumervil deserves in wake of his performance last season.

– The Vikings re-signed restricted free agent Ray Edwards to a one-year, $2.521 million deal. The defensive end had threatened last month to hold out, but apparently that was just a ploy in hopes of receiving long-term contract. Edwards recorded 51 tackles and 8.5 sacks last season.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Edwards’ development has been vital for Vikings

NFL scouts say that it usually takes a defensive end three years to make an impact for their team. In the case of Ray Edwards, it took four years but the Vikings don’t mind.

After racking up 13 sacks in his first three seasons in the NFL, Edwards now has 11.5 sacks through 17 games this year. He gained national attention last Sunday by sacking Tony Romo three times in Minnesota’s 34-3 win over Dallas, while also compiling five tackles and two tackles for loss.

His performance ignited a Minnesota fan base that has seen the former 2006 fourth round pick mature into legitimate pass-rushing threat opposite Jared Allen on the Vikings’ defensive line. His development this season has been especially noteworthy, because at one point this summer it appeared that nickel specialist Brian Robison would push Edwards for more playing time.

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Vikings’ pass rush key to beating Brees, Saints

How does a team beat an opponent that had not been beaten in its last 18 games, that had averaged over 36 points and over 410 yards of total offense a game?

The quick answer to the proposed question above is a potent pass-rush. Along with the last-minute heroics of Eli Manning and David Tyree, that’s how the Giants beat the undefeated Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII. And that’s also how the Vikings can beat the Saints this Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and the rest of the Minnesota offense will get a lot of attention heading into this weekend – and rightfully so. Led by Favre and AP, the Vikings have the fifth best overall and the second best scoring offense in the league. But it’ll be the play of Jared Allen and the rest of Minnesota’s pass rush that will be crucial to the Vikings’ Super Bowl hopes.

The Vikings trail the Saints in terms of total offense and points scored. New Orleans has the best offense in the NFL, led by quarterback Drew Brees and a plethora of weapons ranging from Reggie Bush to Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey. There’s a reason why the Saints earned the No. 1 seed – they put points on the board, especially at home.

But the Cowboys proved in Week 15 that Brees and the rest of the Saints’ offense could be neutralized by a defense that can pressure the quarterback. In that game, DeMarcus Ware treated Jermon Bushrod like a revolving door to Brees, while racking up two of the Cowboys’ four sacks that night. Brees had limited time to throw and was often swallowed up by Dallas’ pressure.

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