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Pay cut hurt pride, but Williams won't step aside

Monday - 6/3/2013, 6:02pm  ET

FILE - In this May 29, 2013 file photo, Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams takes a break during practice in Eden Prairie, Minn. Williams, entering his team-high 11th season with Minnesota, considered skipping these so-called optional spring practices but he wants to finish strong, if this is his last year with the Vikings. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- An eventful, productive 10-year career with Minnesota for Kevin Williams has taken a sharp turn toward a final chapter.

First, the Vikings forced him to take a pay cut. Then they drafted his probable replacement with one of their three first-round picks in April.

Williams didn't get to be a six-time Pro Bowl pick by being a pushover. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound defensive tackle doesn't plan to meekly fade away.

"If we can bring a young guy to help us win and he just so happens to play my position, so be it," Williams said. "I still think I'm the top dog here and until proven otherwise, we're going to go with it."

Under the hefty extension he signed right in 2006, Williams made $7 million last season. He was scheduled to draw the same salary plus $500,000 in incentives for 2013, but the Vikings docked that to $4.9 million plus a $100,000 bonus. The final year of his contract, at $7 million for 2014, was voided.

The giveback to Williams was that his salary this season was fully guaranteed.

Slashing salaries for veterans to manage salary-cap space, of course, is simply part of the offseason routine for NFL teams. Left guard Charlie Johnson and tight end John Carlson also had their contracts restructured in order to stick around. Cornerback Antoine Winfield was stunningly let go, and the hope the Vikings had of him returning at a lower rate was dashed when he signed with Seattle.

Williams, the longest-tenured player on the team and the only one on Minnesota's defense who was here prior to 2006, has endured all kinds of ups and downs since he was taken with the ninth overall pick in the 2003 draft out of Oklahoma State.

Only eight of his 56
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