The Vikings know they're not making much headway in their attempt to gain public financing for a new, revenue-friendly stadium. The state is struggling to deal with a massive revenue shortfall, and the pleas of a professional football franchise are falling on deaf legislative ears. Indeed, this week at the NFL meetings, Vikings owner Red McCombs admitted that he misjudged the political climate in Minnesota when he bought the team in 1998.
That said, the Vikings are trying to figure out new ways to squeeze a little more blood from the turnip that is the Metrodome.
How? The team is trying to figure out ways to gain more advertising revenues. They have proposed the installation of revolving signs and the possibility of using electronic LED signage.
The team is also thinking of trying to transfer the responsibility of selling luxury suites for Twins and Gophers games at the Metrodome to their respective hosts. In exchange, the Vikings would as for a reduction in their own suite rent.
A look at the Vikings' thought process on free agents, and the moves they've made already:
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: PK Gary Anderson (he is a steady placekicker, and the Vikings want him back. But that will only happen if they can find a punter who can also kick off); TE Hunter Goodwin (strong run blocker is wanted back, but he may attract interest from both Dallas and Houston); LB Lemanski Hall (backup who played on passing downs, but his place is expected to be taken by Raonall Smith next year. He will probably not be back); DT Darius Holland (a failed experiment, he will not return); OG Corbin Lacina (aging veteran wore down as the season progressed. Is not likely to be back, unless it is as a backup. His status will depend on how successful the Vikings are in free agency); LB Jim Nelson (Vikings have decided he can't be depended upon to play well as a backup, so his role, if he returns, will be a special teamer. He could return in that role); P Kyle Richardson (didn't knock anybody's socks off, but he is good at punting inside the 20. He could be back if the Vikings can't land a punter/kickoff specialist in free agency); DT Talance Sawyer (finished season on injured reserve with a knee injury and has been slow to heal. His status remains in doubt); WR Chris Walsh (special teams ace is also versatile receiver and a favorite of the head coach. Should return for 11th season).
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): S Tyrone Carter (not tendered as RFA; lost starting position at cornerback early in the year); DT Winfield Garnett (not tendered as ERFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Doug Chapman (tendered at $605,000 with 3rd-round pick as compensation; will have a difficult time finding a role. While he finished the season on IR, the Vikings settled on a very strong combination of Michael Bennett and Moe Williams. A trade is possible); OL Cory Withrow (tendered at $605,000 with no compensation; effective backup may seek trade to find a starting job).
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: DE Lance Johnstone (UFA; 3 yrs, $700,000 SB/total value unknown; 2003 cap: $888,000); OL Lewis Kelly (Potential RFA; $375,000/1 yr); TE Jimmy Kleinsasser (Franchise FA; $3.05M/1 yr); LS Brody Liddiard (not tendered as RFA; 2 yrs, $1.005M/2 yrs, no SB; 2003 cap: $450,000/$50,000 base guarantee); RB Moe Williams (UFA; $2.7M/3 yrs, SB unknown).
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: LB Chris Claiborne (UFA Lions; $5.5M/2 yr, SB unknown); QB Gus Frerotte (UFA Bengals; $1.9M/2 yrs, no SB/$700,000 base guarantee); CB Ken Irvin (UFA Saints; $4.5M/3 yrs, $1.2M SB); DT Billy Lyon (UFA Packers; $2.23M/3 yrs, no SB/$400,000 RB; 2003 cap: $930,000); OT Mike Rosenthal (UFA Giants; $1.8M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB; 2003 cap: $780,000); QB Kevin Thompson (not tendered as ERFA/Browns; terms unknown); CB Denard Walker (FA Broncos; $13M/4 yrs, $2.5M SB/$1M roster bonus; 2003 cap: $2.917M).
PLAYERS LOST: QB Todd Bouman (traded Saints); S Ronnie Bradford (UFA; retired); FB Harold Morrow (cut); LB Patrick Chukwurah (cut); LB Antonio Wilson (not tendered as RFA/Texans; terms unknown)
Quote to note
"I feel like our team is coming together, piece by piece. We like it. The key components, we've gotten them put together. If we don't sign any more free agents, I would say that we've had a very successful free-agent phase." -- Vikings owner Red McCombs.
Purple Potpourri: Stadiums and Free Agents
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