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Monday, January 5, 2009
Black and Blue all over: The end for Birk, Frerotte?

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Two grizzled veterans might have played their final games Sunday in Minnesota's 26-14 wild-card playoff loss to Philadelphia.

Center Matt Birk had a picture taken of himself on the field after the game and spent a long time working the locker room. Quarterback Gus Frerotte, meanwhile, made plans to re-join his family in St. Louis amid rumors he does not want to return as the Vikings' backup.

Birk, who completed his 11th season with the team, does not have a contract for next season and the Vikings want to move on at the position. He said "you never know" about future plans but made clear that moving on was an option, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.

"After [the game] I made sure I went around and just shook everybody's hand and just telling them how much I appreciate them," Birk said. "One thing that's evident is change in this deal. A lot of guys aren't going to be back."

Frerotte, meanwhile, is signed through the 2009 season but did not hide his objections to remaining the backup after a back injury healed two weeks ago. He has spoken often about the hardship of leaving behind his family in St. Louis, where his children are in school, and might not be interested in returning to Minnesota in 2009.

Here's what Frerotte said afterwards, according to Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

"Like I told Coach [Brad Childress], I want to be the guy that's out there. It's hard to sit back. Any professional wants to be out there and play with these guys. Obviously I'm a pro, and you're going to do whatever you can to help Tarvaris and help the team, but you want to be the guy out there that's facing the bullets."

Continuing around the NFC North on the first day of the offseason for all four teams: