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  1. #1
    Jordan is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Ben Leber contract already set to be a Viking Monday!!

    http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/sports/14024355.htm

    The Vikings haven't won any regular-season titles in a while. But once again they are the undisputed offseason champions, with an NFL-high $24 million in salary cap space.

    With the blessing of owner Zygi Wilf to build a Super Bowl contender, Minnesota is poised to be a major player in free agency, especially with roughly half the teams in the league struggling to get under the salary cap.
    The influence of Rob Brzezinski, the Vikings' vice president of football operations, appears as strong as ever. With the exception of cornerbacks Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot, Minnesota has been leery of investing too heavily in players from other teams and engaging in bidding wars with other clubs.

    The Vikings also generally avoid the most high-profile free agents.
    This year could be an exception.
    Minnesota could land some superstar players in their primes at discounted salaries because so many teams are up against the 2006 salary cap.
    Here's a look at the Vikings' needs and some top prospects, in order of importance.

    RUNNING BACK
    Minnesota was high on Maurice Morris, Shaun Alexander's backup in Seattle, early last week. But with little progress made toward ratification of the collective bargaining agreement, the Vikings realized they could get much more for much less.
    The plum they could be eyeing: four-time Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James.

    With a glut of talented rookies and veterans, James might not get the blockbuster contract he covets. But here's an X-factor: Brzezinski and agent Drew Rosenhaus have done several deals and have respect for each other, based partly on their Miami ties.
    James is unlikely to agree to a multiyear deal if he isn't satisfied with the signing bonus, so he might be inclined to audition for one year with Minnesota.

    Baltimore's Chester Taylor also would be a good fit. But the Ravens are aggressively trying to re-sign him, and the Seahawks are taking the same approach with Alexander.
    So far, the Vikings have shown no interest in Jamal Lewis, who isn't the ideal fit for a West Coast offense.
    Morris, however, remains an attractive option to Minnesota.

    LINEBACKER
    The Vikings realize this is the weakest position on their roster, and they are aggressively addressing it. The buzz around the NFL is that Minnesota has already agreed in principle on a multiyear deal with outside linebacker Ben Leber, who played the past four seasons for the San Diego Chargers. Leber could land a $7 million signing bonus and a contract that averages $4 million a year, a whopping figure for a player with 212 career tackles.
    But Leber is big (6 feet 3, 244 pounds) and athletic, and Fran Foley,
    the Vikings' vice president of player personnel, knows him well from their days with the Chargers.
    Leber, however, might not be Minnesota's last foray into free agency at linebacker. While the Vikings would like to add a veteran to the middle, the current crop of players is modest, headed by three veterans (Sam Cowart, Derek Smith and restricted free agent Matt Wilhelm) who aren't known for their range and speed.
    Two cover two middle linebackers available are Rob Morris and Rocky Calmus, former teammates with the Indianapolis Colts.
    Minnesota could get a bargain at weak-side linebacker. The top player at that spot is Will Witherspoon, a standout for the Carolina Panthers. But he could be very expensive — commanding a signing bonus of more than $12 million — and it's unclear if the Vikings would pay that much. Players who could come at a discount include Julian Peterson, David Thornton and Akin Ayodele.

    A few years ago, Peterson was one of the NFL's most dominant linebackers. But injuries have slowed him, and he could thrive with a change of scenery.

    GUARD
    The Vikings apparently have targeted guards who also can play center, an indication they don't want to be caught in a situation such as last year's, when they had to scramble right before the season to land Melvin Fowler in a trade after Pro Bowl center Matt Birk was lost for the season.
    Minnesota has signed Jason Whittle, formerly of the New York Giants, and has expressed interest in Pro Bowl guard/center LeCharles Bentley, who disputed published reports that he has agreed to a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. He told the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Friday that he planned to sign with the Eagles as early as Monday, when free agency is scheduled to open.

    Bentley of the New Orleans Saints and Steve Hutchinson of the Seahawks are the only elite guards available in free agency, and both will command signing bonuses of at least $10 million. But during his short tenure Vikings coach Brad Childress has emphasized the importance of the offensive and defensive lines several times. To that end, Minnesota could make a strong push to sign Hutchinson or Bentley.

    There also have been reports that the Vikings are interested in restricted free agents Kris Dielman (Chargers) and Sean Mahan (Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
    But the best fit might be Toniu Fonoti, who was acquired in a trade last season. Fonoti, though, wants to test the market and try to land a lucrative deal.

    Two other veterans worth watching are Ross Tucker and Stephen Neal, both of whom played for the New England Patriots last season.
    KICKER

    So far, Minnesota hasn't been very proactive in trying to re-sign Paul Edinger. Perhaps that's because the market for veteran kickers is so deep. The marquee names are Adam Vinatieri and Mike Vanderjagt. More reasonably priced options might be longtime Green Bay Packers kicker Ryan Longwell or Matt Bryant, a Buccaneer last season.

    SAFETY
    Although the Vikings re-signed Willie Offord, they can't bank on him to start opposite Darren Sharper next season. Offord is coming off major knee surgery and has shown only flashes in his four NFL seasons.
    Signing a proven veteran at a modest salary to compete with Offord would appear to make sense. Players who could interest Minnesota are Lawyer Milloy, Marlon McCree, Lance Schulters, Tank Williams and Ifeanyi Ohalete.
    Another intriguing option is Dexter Jackson, who played for new Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin with the Buccaneers. Although Jackson is a free safety, the two positions are interchangeable in many ways in the cover two defense.

    BEST OF THE REST
    Rumors persist that quarterback Daunte Culpepper is being shopped, which means Minnesota could be in the market for a quarterback. Drew Brees in the class of the field, and he too has ties to Foley. But, just like Culpepper, Brees is coming off a serious injury. Other than Brees, anyone else would walk into Winter Park as Brad Johnson's backup.
    Last year, the Vikings made a run at Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman. But they haven't shown any interest this year, apparently confident with their defensive line depth. But at the right price, Minnesota gladly would upgrade at any position, including receiver, especially if Koren Robinson isn't re-signed.

    The collective bargaining agreement could determine the Vikings' success in free agency. Without an extension, Minnesota would be one of about a dozen teams with plenty of salary cap space, which is needed to sign top-tier players. Signing bonuses can be spread only over four years, which means the cap impact will be immediate for clubs.

    Without a CBA deal, today could become Bloody Sunday, with teams scrambling to get below the $94.5 million salary cap by purging their roster of proven players. With the ultimate buyer's market, the Vikings could be very selective about whom to sign and even land stars to one-year deals as they prepare for 2007, when there would be no salary cap.
    If there is a deal, Minnesota would lose that advantage and have to compete with more teams for the elite players.


    "SSSMMMOOTTT" & "Toine" will be the best CB combo in the NFL next year TRUST ME!!!

  2. #2
    Jordan is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re: Ben Leber contract already set to be a Viking Monday!!

    To me though that contract is a little high for his caliber(6yrs. 24mil. with a 7mil. signing bonus) but i agree he's a big guy at 6'3 244lbs that's the perfect type of LB we need here in Minny. A LB that's fast athletic and physical.

    GOOD JOB ON EVERYTHING FRONT OFFICE EXCEPT 4 THE CONTRACT NUMBERS!!


    "SSSMMMOOTTT" & "Toine" will be the best CB combo in the NFL next year TRUST ME!!!

  3. #3
    BBQ Platypus's Avatar
    BBQ Platypus is offline Team Alumni
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    Re: Ben Leber contract already set to be a Viking Monday!!

    Hmm...that does sound a bit high...and athletic LB's aren't necessarily the best. Let's see what he's got between the ears. I think he might have the potential to be a good Cover 2 LB, but we'll see.

    At safety, I would actually like to see Chavous come back. I like the guy. He's a smart player and I don't really see what the problem is.

    We definitely need some improvement at the guard spot. 'Nuff said. We all know that our two guards leave a lot to be desired.

    This looks to be one exciting offseason. As long as 'Pep doesn't get traded, it should be an enjoyable one, too.


    "This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there's stuff."

  4. #4
    CrazyVikingsFan is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re: Ben Leber contract already set to be a Viking Monday!!

    hey singer i know this is off topic but i found one of those things that is in your avatar and it is my good luck charm.

  5. #5
    JDante's Avatar
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    Re: Ben Leber contract already set to be a Viking Monday!!

    I still say we get Ray Lewis. Hes a monster. And an experienced Middle Linebacker along with Darren Sharper will give us some veteren leadership on our defense.

    Only thing is i dont know if he would fit into the Tampa Cover 2...
    Yea.

  6. #6
    JDante's Avatar
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    Re: Ben Leber contract already set to be a Viking Monday!!

    I still say we get Ray Lewis. Hes a monster. And an experienced Middle Linebacker along with Darren Sharper will give us some veteren leadership on our defense.

    Only thing is i dont know if he would fit into the Tampa Cover 2...
    Yea.

  7. #7
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    VikesfaninWis is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Ben Leber contract already set to be a Viking Monday!!

    It sounds good. The money may be to much for that LB. At S I would really like to see Dexter Jackson in here. He already knows the system and has excelled at it, who better to bring in than that? I would really love to see the Vikes get Edgerrin James, the guy is a beast, and what we need behind QB.

    Now on to the QB position. This whole scenario with Pepp and Childress is what concerns me. Pepp is coming back from a horrible injury, one in which we have no idea if he can come completely back from. If Drew Brees proves to be healthy, I say go for him. Brees is better suited for the WCO than Pepp is. We know whatever team goes after Brees their team doctors will be looking him over making sure the investment isn't for nothing.

    Now with all that said. ESPN has said that there is talks that something can be agreed upon with the CBA. All I know is that these idiots better not delay FA again because they don't know how to talk and get crap straigtened out. I personally would like to see NO DEAL made so we have leverage... On the other hand, another team that is right there with us in cap space is the Cheese. Now if there is a deal made then it comes down to which team has a better chance to win the SB next season. I think we hold that over the packers..

  8. #8
    NordicNed is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Ben Leber contract already set to be a Viking Monday!!

    Maybe Tomkin and Childress see something about Leber that we don't know about.

    With those kind of signing numbers, tells me they want him to be a starter.....

    Let the Games Begin.....


    I LOVE THE SMELL OF VICTORY IN THE MORNING AIR.

  9. #9
    Wiggles67's Avatar
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    Re: Ben Leber contract already set to be a Viking Monday!!

    "VikingNed" wrote:
    Maybe Tomkin and Childress see something about Leber that we don't know about.

    With those kind of signing numbers, tells me they want him to be a starter.....

    Let the Games Begin.....
    Ned I do believe your right with the idea that they see something the rest of us dont. And I would love for us to find a diamond in the rough but honestly from the way this guy sounds we should have been able to land him easily with have that salary. I dont have any problems with this guy, he seems like he should be a solid LB but there's no reason to throw an extra truck load of money at a guy we should have been able to get for a lot less. We need to use this cap money very wisely!

    "I choose my company by the beating of their hearts, not the swelling of their heads"

  10. #10
    FedjeViking is offline Ring of Fame
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    Re: Ben Leber contract already set to be a Viking Monday!!

    "K-Rob18" wrote:
    hey singer i know this is off topic but i found one of those things that is in your avatar and it is my good luck charm.
    It's one of those pewter keyrings. I have one hanging from my rear view mirror.
    [move]"Our day WILL come!! I just hope I LIVE long enough to see it!"[/move]

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