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 Tuesday, March 7
Marino has offer on table from Vikings news services

 MINNEAPOLIS -- At least one team in the NFL doesn't think Dan Marino is washed up.

Marino's football future has apparently come down to a decision to retire or play for the Minnesota Vikings, NFL sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Dan Marino

Dennis Green is trying to lure the league's career passing leader to Minnesota, where he would become the Vikings' eighth starter in eight seasons.

Marino, who turns 39 this year, has spent his entire 17-year career in Miami. He is considering the offer from the Vikings, but also considering retirement.

The Vikings feature receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss, but they also lost Pro Bowl offensive linemen Randall McDaniel and Jeff Christy to rival Tampa Bay.

"Dan called me, and Dan said that the Vikings had offered him a contract and he was thinking about it," Carter told WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday.

"Before Minnesota called, I think Dan was going to retire," Carter said from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. "I think it really rekindled some interest that he had maybe four or five months ago."

Carter also said Marino was concerned about uprooting his children.

Marino was offered Minnesota's starting quarterback job last week in talks with Green, two sources close to Marino and speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed Monday.

Marino, who has never won a championship, most likely will decide by the end of the week, one of the sources said.

"I'm just flabbergasted," Dolphins president Eddie Jones said. "I have no idea about Dan Marino and any report about him going anyplace. I know nothing about where Dan's head is at or what he plans to do."

But Jones said for the first time Monday that if Marino plays next season, the Dolphins want him.

"Danny has been told he can come back," Jones said.

Green didn't return phone calls from The Associated Press on Monday. Last week, he told his staff not to discuss the team's quarterback situation in light of heavy criticism of his declaration that Daunte Culpepper, his top draft pick last year, would enter camp as the projected starter.

But Green told WAFN Radio in Miami he'd love it if Marino and the Vikings pursued their elusive championship rings together.

"We think this is a perfect merger of a guy who wants one more year to get it done the right way and a team that's looking for that one guy who wants one more year to get it right," Green said.

The Vikings haven't offered Jeff George a contract, even though he went 9-3 after coming off the bench last season to replace Randall Cunningham, who was demoted 5½ games into his new $28 million contract.

Cunningham received a $1 million roster bonus on March 1, but the Vikings intend to release him after June 1 to soften the salary-cap blow.

Sources say Green has assured Marino he would be the Vikings starter while Culpepper, the team's 1999 No. 1 draft pick, gets another year of seasoning as a backup.

George's agent, Leigh Steinberg, said he assumed the Vikings would make a push for his client's return once they freed up enough cap room. Steinberg said he was flabbergasted by the Vikings' pursuit of Marino instead.

"Do I understand what's going on in Minnesota? No," Steinberg said. "Usually when a guy goes 9-3 and takes his team to the playoffs, the team tries to extend his contract very quickly. It seemed like a marriage made in heaven."

Cunningham has refused a big pay cut and probably will be jettisoned June 1.

Marino, who has not attracted much interest from other teams, threw 12 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions in 1999, by far the worst ratio of his career. He also missed five games and most of a sixth because of a neck injury.

In the playoffs, Marino led the Dolphins to a 20-17 victory over Seattle in the first round. But the team was embarrassed 62-7 the next week against Jacksonville, when the Dolphins trailed 38-0 before Marino even completed a pass.

After the most lopsided loss in Dolphins history and the most miserable afternoon of his career, Marino said: "I've never experienced a game like this in my life. Even as a kid, I've never had a game like this."

Marino is the most prolific passer in NFL history. In 17 seasons, he has completed 4,967 passes for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns, all NFL records.

But injuries have taken a toll, and Marino's quarterback rating of 67.4 ranked 30th in the league.

He became a free agent last month after voiding his contract with Miami. The Dolphins then signed free agent quarterback Jay Fiedler.

The Vikings haven't had the money to do much in the free agent market. But Marino's agent, Marvin Demoff, had discussions with the team on a contract that would fit within the salary cap.

Marino, who had a mediocre 1999, could sign a deal with easily reachable incentives that would not squeeze the Vikings too much.

The Vikings, who have shaken up their roster and coaching staff this offseason, are hoping Marino won't pass up a shot at playing with Carter and Moss, who thrived last year with the equally strong-armed George.

When the Dolphins signed Fiedler to a three-year, $3.8 million contract, it seemed clear Marino had played his last game in Miami.


Legends on the move

Dolphins run reverse: They want Marino back

Marino to the Bucs is anything but a Dungy deal

By George! QB could return to Vikings after all

Vikings reportedly still might cut QB Cunningham

Fiedler's deal with Dolphins might be bad omen for Marino

Marino eyes other teams after voiding Dolphins contract

Vikings advise George: You'd better shop around

 Chris Mortensen describes Marino's next move.
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 Dennis Green wants to put Marino in a QB-friendly offense.
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