Steussie signs contract

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — No matter whose money they’re spending, the Minnesota Vikings appear intent on spending plenty of it this offseason.
With their ownership situation at least a week from resolution, the traditionally stingy Vikings made left tackle Todd Steussie the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history Thursday with a $22 million, five-year contract. The deal includes a $6 million signing bonus, almost twice the previous team record.
“It’s a pretty nice feeling,” said Steussie, who benefited from the NFL’s newly signed $17.6 billion television package. “Obviously, the recognition comes with that, and the responsibility is still there. But I’m ready for that.”
Combining their share of the TV money and the anticipation of broader financial resources once the team’s sale is resolved, the Vikings seem poised to try to become a serious contender in the NFC.
That’s a move they have been unable to make under the current 10-person ownership group. But both prospective buyers — author Tom Clancy and current co-owner Roger Headrick — have promised they will spend more to improve the team from its status as a perennial playoff also-ran.
“They felt their situation was unique in that they had less cash flow, and I think they anticipate there will be more in the future,” said Leigh Steinberg, Steussie’s agent. “We’re very encouraged by the fact that it looks like they’ll finally have a single owner at some point.”
Along with Steussie’s signing Thursday, the Vikings designated running back Robert Smith as their franchise player and All-Pro defensive lineman John Randle as their transition player.