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  1. #1
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    Cap space, needs bountiful for Vikings

    Posted on Thu, Feb. 16, 2006

    [size=18px]Cap space, needs bountiful for Vikings[/size]

    Running back, defense top free-agent priority list

    BY DON SEEHOLZER
    Pioneer Press


    With a new offense and defense to stock, the Vikings will have some holes to fill when free agency begins March 3... if it begins March 3.

    With NFL owners and the players union still working to negotiate an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, there have been reports this week that the start date might be pushed back a week or two or all the way to April 1.

    The good news from a Vikings standpoint is that, whenever free-agent season begins, they once again will have plenty of cash to fill out their list.
    Minnesota will be at least $24 million under the salary cap for coach Brad Childress' first foray into free agency, and at least one NFL personnel expert expects the Vikings to be active shoppers.

    "As I look at them, I want a 25-carry running back and I want a double-digit sack guy," Gary Horton, head of Scouts Inc. and a consultant to ESPN, said this week. "That's my Christmas list. And I want to find a linebacker who can drop and cover. Those are my three keys."

    Those aren't the only needs for the Vikings, who will look to improve their offensive line and likely will have to find a starting strong safety for their new Cover 2 defense.

    Some of those holes won't be filled until the April 29-30 NFL draft, but Horton expects Childress and the Vikings to attack free agency aggressively.

    "I think they'll have a good draft, but I believe that Brad really wants to win now," he said. "If they think they can upgrade in free agency, they're going to be really active. I think it's an outstanding football team talent-wise. I was shocked last season that they started so poorly."

    With the help of Horton, we look at some of the top free agents who might be available at the Vikings' need positions as well as a few sleepers.

    RUNNING BACK

    NFL MVP Shaun Alexander of Seattle is the biggest of the big names, along with Edgerrin James of Indianapolis and Baltimore's Jamal Lewis.

    With the possible exception of Alexander, who is discussing a long-term contract with the Seahawks, all are expected to hit the free-agent market. James could be the best fit of the three for Childress' version of the West Coast offense.

    "He's going to want a guy who can catch the ball," Horton said. "He's going to want a guy who's not necessarily a pounder but a guy who can catch and maybe can move around a little bit. Edgerrin James would be terrific. I really think he'd be a tremendous fit, but there's a feeling among a lot of people that James — as productive as he's been — is going to start slowing down."

    James, who will be 28 next season, also would carry a hefty price tag, and there are injury questions about two more high-profile backs — DeShaun Foster of Carolina and Green Bay's Ahman Green.

    That could leave the Vikings to choose from sleeper candidates such as Maurice Morris, the Seahawks' No. 2 back behind Alexander, and Chester Taylor, Lewis' backup with the Ravens.

    "They both fit Brad's West Coast offense, and those are guys sort of below the radar," Horton said. "Jamal Lewis, for example, doesn't fit. Those are two guys that really would fit and be a nice upgrade. They have some breakaway speed; they're not just between-the-tackles guys. You can put them in motion; they can run inside and outside. They've got a little bit of explosiveness."

    Morris and Taylor also have enough upside that they could be taken off the market by their teams before free agency begins, and there is a school of thought that the Vikings will wait until the draft to find a running back.
    Horton disagrees.

    "I think they probably would like to find him in free agency if they have a guy targeted," he said, "because I think they want to hit the ground running. In my mind, as I look at the Vikings, the missing link to Brad being very successful in Year 1 is that all-purpose back. A bigger, more physical Brian Westbrook kind of back."

    LINEBACKER

    This was a need area even before the Vikings switched defenses, and it's more important than ever in the Cover 2 scheme new defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin brings with him from Tampa Bay.

    "You've got to be athletic," Horton said. "In a perfect world, you're looking for guys who have played in that Cover 2. They've got to be able to cover some ground. They're not going to blitz a lot. They're going to have a lot of pass defense responsibilities."

    There are no Brian Urlachers among the pending free agents at middle linebacker, the Vikings' biggest hole, but there are intriguing candidates.
    "Nick Greisen of the Giants is sort of an interesting guy at probably a pretty good price," Horton said. "Derek Smith at San Francisco is interesting. So is Tommy Polley at Baltimore. I'm not wild about him, but he's athletic. He's that athletic guy that can turn and run."

    The big name at outside linebacker is San Francisco's Julian Peterson, who has athleticism to burn but is probably best suited to a role as a pass rusher in a 3-4 scheme.

    Will Witherspoon of Carolina is more in the Cover 2 mold, and there are a couple of more affordable options in Philadelphia's Keith Adams and perhaps Hunter Hillenmeyer of Chicago, a restricted free agent.

    "Witherspoon is aggressive. He's going to make a lot of plays," Horton said. "I like him. He'll fly around. He'll hit you. He has a little bit of pizazz to him."

    DEFENSIVE END

    The New York Jets are expected to use a franchise tag on and then trade John Abraham, the big name of the bunch, but he would be a risky pickup for the Vikings or any team.

    "Abraham has all sorts of talent," Horton said. "It just depends on whether he wants to play or not. He's been a huge underachiever. He's a talented guy, but boy is he up and down."

    Tennessee's Kyle Vanden Bosch has the talent without the baggage, but he is expected to re-sign with the Titans, and New Orleans' Darren Howard has been bothered by injuries the past three seasons.

    Among the sleeper candidates, Horton likes Kansas City's Carlos Hall and Raheem Brock of Indianapolis.

    "He's been kind of in that rotation there," Horton said of Brock. "He can get after the quarterback, as all those guys can. In the Cover 2 defense, you've got to have a premier edge guy because you don't rely on the blitz. Tampa Bay was great for all those years because they rushed four and dropped seven."

    GUARD/RIGHT TACKLE

    The Vikings likely will have to wait until draft day to find a guard, with the one elite prospect, Steve Hutchinson of Seattle, expected to get hit with the franchise tag.

    "He's not going anywhere," Horton said. "There's nobody else here I really like. I don't know that there's a guy there who could step in and be a starter."

    There is New Orleans' LeCharles Bentley, who played his first two seasons at guard but reportedly wants to stay at center.

    The pickings are better at tackle, where Tom Ashworth of New England and restricted free agent Jordan Black of Kansas City could be available.
    Then there's Jon Runyan of Philadelphia, whom Childress knows well from his time with the Eagles.

    "Runyan is a tough, hard-nosed guy," Horton said. "I could see Brad saying this guy could bring some toughness to that group for two or three years. Absolutely, I could see that one."

    SAFETY

    If Horton were with the Vikings, his first choice here would be to re-sign strong safety Corey Chavous and use free agency to fill the team's other holes.

    There are some strong candidates, though, including Adam Archuleta of St. Louis, Baltimore's Will Demps and Chris Hope of Pittsburgh, if the Steelers aren't able to re-sign him.

    "You can get a quality safety in this class," Horton said. "A guy like Archuleta, you'd probably want to bring him up into the box a little bit and play a Cover 3. Hope is a great center fielder. I love him, and he's a Cover 2 guy. You put him back there with (Darren) Sharper, and that's pretty good."

    Briefly:

    The Vikings signed free-agent fullback Joey Goodspeed, a three-year NFL veteran who spent the 2003-04 seasons in St. Louis.

    • The Houston Chronicle reports that Jerry Rhome, who worked as a consultant with the Vikings last season, has been hired to help prepare University of Texas quarterback Vince Young for next week's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

    • Vikings owner Zygi Wilf will meet with the Blaine City Council tonight to lay out the details of his private $1 billion development plan.

    Don Seeholzer can be reached at [email protected]

    Cap Space

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

  2. #2
    Lotza's Avatar
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    Re: Cap space, needs bountiful for Vikings

    nice article

























    Go vikes!!

  3. #3
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Cap space, needs bountiful for Vikings

    [size=18px]Vikings need RB, have money, but interest is unclear[/size]

    The Vikings have been tight-lipped about their plans for free agency, but it's no secret they are in need of help at running back. With the team expected to have about $24 million in salary cap room available, the Vikings also are in a prime position to pursue an elite player at that spot.

    By Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune
    Last update: February 28, 2006 – 1:24 AM


    The Vikings have been tight-lipped about their plans for free agency, but it's no secret they are in need of help at running back. With the team expected to have about $24 million in salary cap room available, the Vikings also are in a prime position to pursue an elite player at that spot.
    Among the names at the top of the list are Seattle's Shaun Alexander, Indianapolis' Edgerrin James and Baltimore's Jamal Lewis. But Lewis' agent, Mitch Frankel, said Monday that he has no indication the Vikings will go after his client.

    "They have not expressed any interest," Frankel said. "Usually teams in general call to say, 'We're interested and when free agency starts we'll call.' I have to assume they are not interested at this point."

    Free agency is scheduled to begin Friday, but if a new labor agreement is reached, that date could be pushed back.

    Free-agent updates

    The Vikings held discussions with the agent for receiver Koren Robinson last week at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. "We talked; that's about it though," Alvin Keels said, adding he's optimistic something will get done. "We'll continue to talk throughout the week."

    The Vikings have the right to match any offer Robinson receives from another team.

    Rob Brzezinski, Vikings vice president of football operations, also met with safety Willie Offord's agent at the combine. David Canter and Brzezinski were planning to talk again Monday.

    Agent Joel Segal, who represents Lance Johnstone, said that there have been no negotiations with the Vikings but that the team has indicated an interest in keeping the defensive end.

    The same could be true for kicker Paul Edinger. His agent, Ken Harris, talked with Vikings director of football administration Dave Blando last week to touch base but said no contract figures were discussed.

    Harris will be looking for an upgrade on the deal that Edinger agreed to last spring after coming off a tough season in Chicago. Edinger received a base salary of $540,000 under a one-year contract that contained up to $300,000 in incentives.

    "We've evaluated four or five teams that all appear to have a need or very well could have a need," Harris said. "I think it's safe to say that Minnesota is right around the top of the list."

    Etc.

    • The Vikings are interested in San Diego left guard Kris Dielman, but the Chargers probably will put a first-round qualifying offer on the restricted free agent.

    • Coach Brad Childress and vice president of player personnel Fran Foley are expected to return tonight from Indianapolis.

    • Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper, responding via e-mail Monday, declined to comment on the remarks made by owner Zygi Wilf on Saturday. Wilf said the Vikings are planning to pay Culpepper his $6 million roster bonus on March 17 and downplayed potential trade talks involving the quarterback.

    • The Vikings will begin airing television and radio ads today to promote their Northern Lights stadium project.

    Vikings need RB

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

  4. #4
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Cap space, needs bountiful for Vikings

    [size=18px]Vikings eager to get shot at free agents[/size]

    With plenty of room under the NFL salary cap and an owner willing to spend, the Vikings don't want the start of the signing period to be postponed.

    Sid Hartman, Star Tribune
    Last update: March 01, 2006 – 11:53 PM


    The Vikings say they believe they are in an advantageous position to sign free agents, being $24 million under the salary cap.
    So they are hopeful that nothing will happen to postpone the free agent signing period scheduled to start Friday.

    With a collective bargaining agreement not in place between players and owners, it's possible free agency might be postponed.

    More than a third of NFL teams have salary cap problems. It is going to be difficult for those teams to sign top free agents. In fact, if nothing pushed back the start of free agency, the Vikings hope to have some free agents at Winter Park this weekend and to make some quick signings.

    Under the Zygi Wilf regime, they won't have to wait to see what the market is for the various free agents before signing them, unlike how it was under previous owner Red McCombs.

    Meanwhile, there is nothing new in the Daunte Culpepper drama.

    If the Vikings trade him, it won't because of uncertainty over if he can play quarterback after his serious knee injury last year. They are convinced Culpepper has made good progress in rehabilitation.

    Sure, Wilf has been quoted as saying that he will pay Culpepper's $6 million bonus due this month. However, coach Brad Childress has the final say on player personnel. So if Childress believes some team offers a good trade, don't be surprised if he accepts it and the Vikings use the $6 million to sign a free-agent quarterback.

    I am now convinced that because of the Love Boat problem, Culpepper doesn't want to be here. If he did, he would be at Winter Park rehabilitating his knee and getting acquainted with the new coach, new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

    Jottings

    If the Vikings are thinking of restructuring the contract of tight end Jim Kleinsasser, nobody has talked to him or his agent.

    The Vikings gave Koren Robinson a chance after Seattle gave up on him and apparently nobody else had too much interest in the wide receiver.

    Now Robinson's agent is asking for big money.

    One reason the Vikings won't bring back reserve quarterback Shaun Hill is that J.T. O'Sullivan, who joined the team after Culpepper was hurt, made a very good impression and was signed to a two-year contract.

    Scott Studwell, Vikings director of college scouting, said two former Gophers offensive linemen, guard Mark Setterstrom and center Greg Eslinger, impressed personnel at the NFL combine with their athletic ability.

    Vikings center Matt Birk has opened a bar-restaurant in downtown St. Paul.

    The new assistant to Childress is Mary Redmond, who spent six years as a secretary in the Kansas City Chiefs office.

    Full Article

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

  5. #5
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    Re: Cap space, needs bountiful for Vikings

    I seriously think we will look at Edge..

    In that first article they started babbling about Edge saying it would be a good fit here for the WCO..

    I think we really need to talk to this guy

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    Re: Cap space, needs bountiful for Vikings

    This is going to be like a kid in a candy shop for us........Let the fun begin....


    I LOVE THE SMELL OF VICTORY IN THE MORNING AIR.

  7. #7
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    Re: Cap space, needs bountiful for Vikings

    "VikingNed" wrote:
    This is going to be like a kid in a candy shop for us........Let the fun begin....
    A rich kid!

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

  8. #8
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    Re: Cap space, needs bountiful for Vikings

    "singersp" wrote:

    Jottings

    If the Vikings are thinking of restructuring the contract of tight end Jim Kleinsasser, nobody has talked to him or his agent.

    One reason the Vikings won't bring back reserve quarterback Shaun Hill is that J.T. O'Sullivan, who joined the team after Culpepper was hurt, made a very good impression and was signed to a two-year contract.

    Scott Studwell, Vikings director of college scouting, said two former Gophers offensive linemen, guard Mark Setterstrom and center Greg Eslinger, impressed personnel at the NFL combine with their athletic ability.


    Full Article
    Does that mean they are going to trade or cut Jimmy K. I doubt it but....?

    JT has impressed the N.O. and the Pack, now us, apparently only as a back up.

    Gophers to Vikings, get a FA G, and then bring one of these guys in slowly. They would probably do well as pros. Eslinger is probably a 2nd or early 3rd rounder. Setterstrom is probably a 3rd or 4th rounder, IDK.

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    Re: Cap space, needs bountiful for Vikings

    "singersp" wrote:
    "VikingNed" wrote:
    This is going to be like a kid in a candy shop for us........Let the fun begin....
    A rich kid!

    We better get some good candy though!!! :wink:
    http://www.myspace.com/pooptin


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