NFC North Tour: Minnesota Vikings

What's going on around the NFC North? We conclude in Minnesota, which — stop us if you've heard this before — is waiting for Brett Favre to make a decision. We have the Vikings' offseason strategy, top needs, free agent bios and more.

The Vikings are still waiting on Brett Favre to make his decision about the future, but they are nearly certain his position coach will return. Kevin Rogers interviewed for the Bears' offensive coordinator's job but that position went to Mike Martz.

That means Rogers almost certainly will return to the Vikings for a fifth season as quarterbacks coach. From all accounts, Rogers is extremely popular with Favre so the fact he is staying might help sway the quarterback into returning.

Offseason strategy

While it seems unlikely the Vikings will use a franchise or transition tag on any of their free agents, this doesn't mean they don't want them back. Running back Chester Taylor would be atop the list because of his value as a blocker and receiver out of the backfield on third down.

Taylor's presence also means the Vikings can keep Adrian Peterson away from taking constant hits. Cornerback Benny Sapp also proved to be a valuable replacement for Antoine Winfield when he missed time because of a foot injury.

Team needs

1. Cornerback: This becomes a position of need because of the ACL injury suffered by starting right corner Cedric Griffin and the foot problem that plagued left corner Antoine Winfield for much of last season. Benny Sapp could leave as a free agent further weakening this spot. Asher Allen will be entering his second season in 2010 but the Vikings need more depth here.

2. Quarterback: If Brett Favre doesn't return, or even if he does, the Vikings still don't have a long-term solution here. Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are expected back — Jackson likely will be a restricted free agent — but are they the answers? The Vikings could use the 30th pick in the draft on this spot.

3. Safety: Madieu Williams has underwhelmed in his two seasons since signing as a free agent and Tyrell Johnson was extremely up-and-down in his first season as a full-time starter. Jamarca Sanford, a seventh-round pick in 2009, was impressive in limited time because of his willingness to hit but the Vikings might want to look at adding more pieces at these spots to create competition.

Unrestricted free agents

— DT Jimmy Kennedy has proven to be a very reliable backup to both nose tackle Pat Williams and three-technique player Kevin Williams. Considered a first-round bust for much of his career, Kennedy has thrived under Vikings defensive-line coach Karl Dunbar and it might be wise for all sides if he returns.

— CB Benny Sapp increased his value by his performance at left corner when Antoine Winfield was out because of a foot injury. Sapp could stand to get a decent pay day from another team for the first time in his career.

— WR Greg Lewis made one of the season's most memorable catches in Week 3 when he pulled Brett Favre's pass out of the air while leaping for a last-second game-winning touchdown against San Francisco. But he was used in a limited role and might be willing to return in the same capacity.

— OL Artis Hicks has proved himself to be extremely valuable as a backup at both guard and tackle spots and likely will re-sign to continue in that role.

— RB Chester Taylor figures to draw the most interest of the Vikings' free agents. He's extremely valuable to the Vikings but could get more money and playing time elsewhere.

Restricted free agents

(*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)

— S Eric Frampton is a special-teams player and if he left it would be because of his ability on those units. The Vikings like him, though, so it's unlikely he will depart.

— *OL Ryan Cook will be restricted if there is no new CBA but that doesn't mean he won't leave. If Cook gets an offer elsewhere it would not be surprising to see the Vikings pass on the opportunity to match.

— *DE Ray Edwards will be restricted if there is no new CBA. The Vikings will have to give him a higher tender or he very well could depart. Edwards was second on the Vikings last season with eight sacks and is considered to be in the prime of his career.

— *DT Fred Evans will be restricted if there is no new CBA. Evans fell behind Jimmy Kennedy this season but he still has value as a backup to Pat Williams at nose tackle.

— *QB Tarvaris Jackson will be restricted if there is no new CBA. Jackson almost certainly will stick around if he's restricted, unless there is a team that really feels he still has what it takes to become a starter.

— *FB Naufahu Tahi will be restricted if there is no new CBA. He has been the Vikings' top fullback the past two seasons. He came close to jumping to Cincinnati last season as a restricted free agent and could draw interest again.

— *CB Karl Paymah will be restricted if there is no new CBA. He fell out of favor this season and almost certainly will be allowed to depart.

Exclusive rights free agents

None.


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