- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 25, 2006

Daunte Culpepper took the unusual step of e-mailing selected Minnesota and national media members Thursday to tell the them the Vikings have promised he won’t be traded. He also said he is willing to adjust his contract to give the team some cap relief. But Culpepper didn’t say anything about promises from the Vikings that he would not be released.

A season ago, Culpepper was as secure as any starting quarterback with two playoff victories could be. Culpepper had just posted the fourth-best quarterback rating (110.9) for a season in NFL history, throwing 39 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and leading the Minnesota Vikings to their first playoff victory in four seasons.

Now Culpepper could soon be released. Culpepper had just six touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season before blowing out all three ligaments in his right knee in the season’s seventh game. He was also one of four Vikings charged in the “Love Boat” sex scandal.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has said he plans to pay the $6 million bonus that Culpepper is due on March 14, but the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Culpepper asked for a raise from a hefty $10 million to a whopping $18 million, a prospect Wilf angrily rejected.

Since Culpepper signed a 10-year, $102 million contract in 2003, 18 players around the league have inked bigger deals, one reason he recently fired his agent.

New coach Brad Childress, who’s not tied to Culpepper like former coach Mike Tice, has termed Culpepper “the franchise quarterback.”

However, Wilf said that he expects Culpepper, 29, and Johnson, 37, to battle it out in training camp. Johnson is a better fit for Childress’ West Coast offense than the deep-passing Culpepper, who has been rehabbing in Florida and whose knee might not be ready come August.

Considering all of that, Wilf and Childress have an interesting decision to make on March 14.

Law on move (again) — Although he was a Pro Bowl selection last season and the New York Jets hired his former New England position coach, Eric Mangini, as its new coach, cornerback Ty Law’s tenure with the Jets is over after just one season.

Law, who had a career-high 10 interceptions last season, was due an $11 million bonus next month and that didn’t make sense for the Jets, who were further over the salary cap than any other team before beginning cuts Wednesday.

The Patriots (for whom he starred from 1995 to 2004) Jacksonville and Kansas City (coached by former Jets coach Herman Edwards) are believed to be the teams with the greatest interest in the 32-year-old Law.

Last former head coach finds work — With Mike Sherman’s acceptance of the assistant head coach/offense title in Houston, all eight head coaches fired in January have found new NFL jobs. Dick Jauron is Buffalo’s new coach. Mike Martz (Detroit), Norv Turner (San Francisco), Mike Mularkey (Miami) and Mike Tice (Jacksonville) are running offenses. Dom Capers (Miami) and Jim Haslett (St. Louis) are running defenses. Kansas City’s Dick Vermeil retired after the season and was replaced by Herman Edwards, who was essentially traded by the Jets.

Sherman, who led Green Bay to the playoffs every season from 2001 to 2004, coached with new Texans coach Gary Kubiak at Texas A&M; in 1992 and 1993.

“Gary is one of the very few people I would have entertained doing this with because I sincerely want to see him be successful,” he said of the first-time head coach. “When you’re a head coach, you wrap yourself around that job heart and soul. To be disassociated from that, it’s difficult. It takes a little time for it to settle in and for you to come to the conclusion that you’re not going to be in that job anymore. It’s tough to let it go.”

This Mara’s not shy — Her late grandfather, Wellington Mara, was a behind the scenes type while owning the New York Giants for decades, but 23-year-old Kate Mara is making a name for herself in front of the cameras.

Mara appeared in Best Picture nominee “Brokeback Mountain” as Alma Jr. And she has been cast in “We Are Marshall,” the story of the Marshall football team which lost most of its players and coaches in a 1970 plane crash.

Mara is the great-granddaughter of NFL patriarchs Tim Mara of the Giants and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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