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  1. #41
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    Re: Vikings | Childress would like to upgrade running backs

    Posted on Sun, Feb. 26, 2006

    [size=18px]Morris catches Vikings' attention[/size]

    BY SEAN JENSEN
    Pioneer Press


    INDIANAPOLIS — NFL teams in need of a running back have a star-studded selection to choose from this offseason.

    Most valuable player Shaun Alexander. Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. Four-time Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James. Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis, who had the second-highest single-season rushing total in 2003. And former University of Minnesota star Laurence Maroney.

    But a less-heralded veteran has created a buzz at the NFL scouting combine, and the Vikings are expected to make a strong push to sign him.
    Maurice Morris, Alexander's backup in Seattle, only has 806 rushing yards in four NFL seasons. But Morris is drawing interest from the Arizona Cardinals and the Vikings, as well as the Seahawks, who are actively trying to re-sign him with the prospect of Alexander seeking an exorbitant signing bonus.

    Detroit Lions running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery isn't sure of the Vikings' intentions. But Montgomery said a marriage between Morris and Minnesota would appear to be an ideal match.

    "For the head coach in Minnesota, Maurice would be a No. 1 candidate because he's been in the West Coast system," said Montgomery, a two-time Pro Bowl running back for the Philadelphia Eagles. "You can plug him right in, and you can go out there tomorrow and start running plays.

    "He's got a good pedigree," Montgomery said. "He's playing in a winning organization, and he's backing up a top-notch back in the NFL. So that has a tendency to breed success."

    Montgomery named LaMont Jordan as an example. After playing sparingly behind durable Pro Bowl running back Curtis Martin for four seasons with the New York Jets, Jordan had 1,588 combined yards for the Oakland Raiders last season.

    Morris fits the profile of the type of veteran free agent the Vikings' new "Triangle of Authority" would appear to be inclined to target. Rob Brzezinski, Minnesota's vice president of football operations, rarely gives free agents from other teams contracts that include a sizable signing bonus, preferring instead to address key spots through the draft or with more modestly priced veterans. Coach Brad Childress and Fran Foley, the vice president of player personnel, both come from NFL teams that were not inclined to sign veterans in free agency to exorbitant contracts.

    But in addition to the depth of running backs available, the Vikings also benefit from a saturated market that features only a handful of teams with deep pockets. Last year, in a weak market, the seldom-used Jordan signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Raiders that included a $7 million signing bonus.

    There has been speculation that Alexander could seek a signing bonus in excess of $20 million, comparable to the record eight-year, $60 million contract running back LaDainian Tomlinson agreed to last year with the San Diego Chargers.

    In addition to Alexander, Lewis and James, other free-agent running backs include Ahman Green (Green Bay Packers), Chester Taylor (Baltimore Ravens) and Anthony Thomas (New Orleans Saints).

    "I can't comment on players that haven't hit the market yet, but I will say that based on guys that are speculated to be free, it could be a buyer's market," said Rod Graves, the Cardinals' vice president of football operations.

    Asked if it is a good season to have a need at that position, Graves quickly and confidently said, "Yes it is."

    Montgomery said teams also will not feel pressured because of the quality of the running backs in the draft. In addition to Bush and Maroney, LenDale White of Southern California and DeAngelo Williams of Memphis are projected to be first-round picks.

    "Edgerrin James — I love him," Montgomery said. "But I don't think the demand is going to be strong on the market for him or Jamal Lewis, Shaun Alexander. It's going to be tough. It's going to be really tough."
    Besides, Lewis and Alexander would not appear to be ideal fits for the Vikings, who plan to run the West Coast offense. Both Lewis and Alexander were usually taken off the field on obvious passing plays.

    James is reportedly seeking a lucrative contract, while Green is coming off a serious quadriceps injury, and the Ravens are aggressively trying to re-sign Taylor instead of Lewis.

    So would a team in need of a running back wait until the draft?
    Atlanta Falcons general manager Rich McKay said that's unlikely.

    "The draft comes second, so teams will not say, 'Well, I'll just wait for the draft because they don't know what they're going to get.

    "That's too much of a wait and too much of a risk," said McKay, who added he is not in the market for an elite running back.

    The Vikings are, however, and they will have some competition. Asked if his team were interested in Morris, Graves said, "He would be someone we would certainly want to consider."

    Childress acknowledged Friday that the team is thin in terms of numbers, and the Vikings are not assuming that Onterrio Smith, who is serving a one-year suspension, will be back with them in 2006.

    Interestingly, if Morris signs with the Vikings, he could be reunited with Smith; the two played together at Oregon, and they each topped 1,000 rushing yards in 2001.

    "He's a very underrated ball player," Montgomery said of Morris. "The key factor is, he's not beaten up, and you could get a bona fide player at a bargain price."

    Sean Jensen can be reached at [email protected]

    Morris catches Vikings' attention

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #42
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    Re: Vikings | Childress would like to upgrade running backs

    I want a franchise running back which we haven't had since Robert Smith

  3. #43
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    Re: Vikings | Childress would like to upgrade running backs

    I think the Running Back position is going to be the story of the Off-Season for the Vikings. Unless they end up touting Onterrio Smith as the answer (while he had flashes of decent play, the guy needs a MAJOR personality overhaul), I'll be happy with what the coaches and personnel guys come up with. Be that Edge James, Maurice Morris, Jamal Lewis, DeAngelo Williams, Laurence Maroney or LenDale White.

  4. #44
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    Re: Vikings | Childress would like to upgrade running backs

    Id say draft a RB in the first round.
    2nd round draft O line
    Upgrade the LB position in free agency

  5. #45
    NordicNed is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Vikings | Childress would like to upgrade running backs

    I'll say this, guys like Childress, Montgomery, and others who make coaching and scouting their careers in the NFL, know a helluva lot more than I do....

    Reading the latest above, Morris could just well be a nice fit. Remember we would still have MM and Fason for extra duty....

    This could free us up to get a first round OL, something I think we need very badly, or in this case a highly rated LB also....

    Either way, this would be nice to see, a RB in FA that we already have a good sense on how they will fit in and play (instead of a draft gamble) the with our first two picks, take an OL and a LB....Not necceseraly in that order...


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