Things have cooled off considerably on the free agency front. So, it seems like a good time to go back through the Vikings’ moves so far and see where we stand.
Safety: Picked up Madieu Williams, let go Dwight Smith. People have been saying mostly good things about Madieu. He has nice ball-skills and should upgrade the Vikings’ deep coverage. He’s not considered very physical though, which could hurt our run support. All-in-all, I’d say he’s better than Dwight Smith – a little weaker against the run maybe but a better cover guy and definitely not as big a headache.
Fullback: Picked up Thomas Tapeh, let go Tony Richardson. Tapeh has two things going for him vs. Richardson: he’s younger and cheaper. I think it was smart for the Purple to get out ahead of the situation, and pick up a long-term guy at what for a run-first team is a very vital position. Tapeh has the endorsement of Inside the Iggles guy so that’s a plus (I think). He has a great chance to make a Pro Bowl, considering all the run yards the Vikes figure to rack up with him lead-blocking for Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor.
Wide Receiver: Picked up Bernard Berrian, let go Troy Williamson. Just letting go of Williamson would have by itself constituted an upgrade at the position, but getting Berrian made this a possible home run. I say “possible” only because Berrian still has not proven he’s a real #1. Still, we’ve been clamoring for a real deep threat, and now we have one…if Tarvaris Jackson is able to get him the ball.
Running back: Picked up Maurice Hicks, let go Mewelde Moore. Hard to assess this one, only because Moore never got a fair shot in Brad Childress‘s offense. Mewelde could have a nice year as the #2 guy to Willie Parker in Pittsburgh and make it look like we squandered him – but then again, we already have two top-flight backs, so he would’ve been bench-warming for us anyway. Hicks gives us a proven kick returner at least, so we won’t have to dick around with Aundrae Allison, Charles Gordon and everyone else back there. Plus he’s a decent third-down option. His talent doesn’t match Mewelde’s, but he probably makes more sense in the role the team wants him to fill.
Defensive end: Picked up no one, lost Kenechi Udeze. The defensive end situation looks dire. At the same time, I have a hard time feeling bad about missing out on Justin Smith, Antwan Odom, Travis LeBoy and Jevon Kearse. None of those guys was gonna be Chris Doleman…hell, they weren’t even gonna be Al Noga. If we can draft someone decent, like Derrick Harvey or Phillip Merling, then maybe we will be okay. We’re scrambling right now to bring back Darrion Scott just for depth. Oh, and it didn’t help losing Spencer Johnson, who used to move outside from time-to-time. We’re also looking at Ellis Wyms for depth at tackle.
Quarterback: Picked up no one, let go Kelly Holcomb. This is the nagging issue beyond DE, that veteran back-up guy behind T-Jack. It looked like it might be Sage Rosenfels for a minute, but that fell through. Then J.P. Losman’s name came up. Some have lobbied for Joey Harrington but he looks like he’s going back to Atlanta in one of those cut a guy then re-sign him to get cap relief deals. I kind of doubt we’ll be able to woo Brett Favre out of retirement so it appears we’ll have to settle for someone’s piece of junk. I peer into my crystal ball and see Chilly drafting someone like Chad Henne or Colt Brennan as a project.
The bottom line: It’s been a solid free agency session so far…not as splashy as a couple years ago when we got Steve Hutchinson, Ben Leber and Chester Taylor, but decent. A good draft and a bearable veteran QB pick-up could make this off-season look very fruitful.
Tags: Adrian Peterson Aundrae Allison Ben Leber Bernard Berrian Brad Childress Charles Gordon Chester Taylor Darrion Scott Kenechi Udeze Madieu Williams Maurice Hicks Minnesota Vikings Steve Hutchinson Thomas Tapeh