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Hinton tries to recruit Mitchell

One of the first things Chris Hinton did after agreeing to a three-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday was call Scott Mitchell.

"He didn't want to tip his hand, for obvious reasons, but I told him I hopes he comes here," Hinton said after signing a contract worth nearly $8-million.

Mitchell, the free-agent quarterback from the Miami Dolphins, is the next piece of the puzzle Minnesota coach Dennis Green hopes to secure.

"There's no secret Mitchell is on top of our list," Green said of the 26-year-old who emerged after Dan Marino's injury. "If Scott Mitchell winds up here, he won't be coming in as a savior but we think he's a young lion on the move."

"This might help him make his decision," Hinton, 32, said after his own signing. "All quarterbacks are interested in their protection.'

The addition of the All-Pro offensive tackle from Atlanta, Green said, "shows Mitchell we're serious. We told him we wanted to sign a top offensive lineman, and now we've done that."

Green said quarterbacks Sean Salisbury and Jim McMahon could be back. Salisbury visited Detroit on Tuesday, but his status as a restricted free agent gives the Vikings the right to match any offer.

Tight end Harris' agent

awaits word from Bucs

TAMPA _ The agent for Green Bay restricted free agent Jackie Harris reported no progress Tuesday in talks with the Bucs.

Jim Steiner said Tampa Bay, which had no comment on its negotiations with the Packers tight end, has not responded to a contract proposal. As a restricted free agent, Harris can sign a Tampa Bay offer sheet, but Green Bay would have seven days to match the deal.

"I'm just waiting to hear back from them," Steiner said. "I think they're waiting to see what the market level is for him. They may call me back to say they're not interested at any level."

In other Bucs free-agent news, unrestricted Denver cornerback Charles Dimry will arrive in Tampa Bay this evening and visit with Bucs coaches Thursday.

Around the league

Bears-Seahawks: Seattle decided not to match Chicago's offer, and offensive tackle Andy Heck became a Bear for $10-million over four years. Heck, a transition player, has started 70 games in the five seasons since the Seahawks drafted him out of Notre Dame in Round 1.

Redskins: Washington announced that Hall of Famer Charley Taylor, who caught 649 passes for the Redskins and has been a team assistant since 1978, will not be retained on new coach Norv Turner's staff.

Giants: Dr. Russell Warren fixed a small tear in quarterback Phil Simms' throwing shoulder and found no significant injury to the muscles. Warren said the prognosis for recovery is "excellent." Brian Williams, who apparently will take over the center spot from free agent Bart Oates, signed for a reported $4.4-million over three years.

Chiefs: After carrying a career-low 42 times for 149 yards during an injury-plagued season as Marcus Allen's backup, running back Harvey Williams says he wants to be traded or released. "I have to get out of there," he said.

Ex-Lion charged: Mike Cofer, a linebacker cut by Detroit last month, was charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct after a woman in Rochester Hills, Mich., accused him of fondling her. Police said the woman went to Cofer's apartment for a late-night business meeting Jan.

13, fled after his alleged physical advances, and flagged down a patrol car. Cofer, 33, was released on personal bond.