Free Agency Report Card

After a frustrating start to the free agent period, the Vikings are at or maybe even past where many thought they would be in their free agent rebuilding. Perhaps the best news of all is that there is every reason to believe there will be more signings to come.

Entering the off-season, the Vikings had several goals to accomplish before the draft. Primary among them was addressing the numerous needs that team had – re-signing its own free agents as well as strengthening one of the worst defenses in the NFC.

With slightly less than a month leading up to the draft, the Vikings find themselves well on their way to achieving that goal – and still have about $15 million in available salary cap room.

The biggest need was at cornerback, where the Vikings have been horrendous for the last four years. The signing of Denard Walker gives them an instant starter and Ken Irvin is a veteran who will battle for another starting spot.

The second goal was to sign an offensive tackle. While the team thought it had a deal done with Orlando Brown and later Jerry Wunsch, the Vikes are likely much better off by signing Mike Rosenthal. Unlike Wunsch, he's young. Unlike Brown, who spent the last three years out of football with an eye injury, Rosenthal is a more proven commodity. With him in the lineup, Chris Liwienski can move to guard. Combined with a full year from Bryant McKinnie, the Vikings offensive line could be the best its been since Korey Stringer and Todd Steussie manned the tackle spots.

Another goal was to re-sign the team's own key free agents. They did that by inking Jim Kleinsasser, Lance Johnstone and Moe Williams to keep key chemistry intact. If any of them had left, it would have opened another void.

Finally, the Vikings solved their growing dilemma at backup QB by signing Gus Frerotte. While it was clear the Vikings were more interested in Neil O'Donnell, Frerotte has 62 NFL starts to his credit and will be a viable backup should anything happen to Daunte Culpepper.

While the team still has several pressing needs – defensive tackle, wide receiver and linebacker are still trouble spots for depth and front-line talent – several of those needs will likely be covered in the draft. And with more money available than just about any other team in the league, the Vikings can continue to add veteran talent.

The Vikings still have a long way to go to return to the top of the NFC, but they've patched a lot of holes, haven't created any new ones and have more chances to improve before the first whistle of training camp blows at the end of July.

* The Vikings remain optimistic of their chances of signing Miami WR Oronde Gadsden. The team was impressed with him during his visit over the weekend and hopes to get a deal acceptable to both parties completed soon.
* The NFL owners are going to meet next week in Arizona, and it looks like the G-3 money that was designated to assist teams in building new stadiums will be extended. If it not extended, the program would expire at the end of the month. With Minnesota in a deep budget crisis, there is no chance of a Vikings stadium bill making it through the Legislature this session, but the promise of $50 million in assistance from the NFL will be a good starting point to get the wheels moving on a new stadium for the team in the next session.

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