After losing Sidney Rice to the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings were reportedly talking to representatives for free agent receivers James Jones (Packers), Malcom Floyd (Chargers) and Braylon Edwards (Jets). But during a conference call with reporters on Friday, head coach Leslie Frazier, while not denying that the Vikings were looking at other options, expressed confidence in his receiving corps.
"We've still got Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe now. Those guys are pretty good players. Bernard Berrian is going to step up and have a great year," Frazier said. "We've got some weapons on this football team. We've got a young guy in Kyle Rudolph that you guys will hear a lot about over the years to come.
"You know what? [McNabb] has got a pretty good guy to hand the ball off to as well, the best running back in the National Football League in Adrian Peterson. We have weapons on this team that a lot of teams would love to have on their team, Pro Bowl players. He's not coming into a situation where the cupboard is empty at all. We're looking forward to him guiding the ship."
Frazier said the Vikings would have loved to have Rice back, but the Seattle Seahawks offered him $18.5 million in guarantees. Rice had a Pro Bowl season in 2009 – his only full healthy season in four years with the Vikings – when he was able to establish himself as an outside threat during Brett Favre's first year with the team.
"We've got Bernard Berrian here for a reason. He's going step up and help us in that area. Percy can still catch the ball deep. Visanthe can still stretch the field down the middle of the field. We've got some weapons to stretch the field when we need to. But our offense … we're going to be able to strike from multiple areas. We're not going to always be throwing the ball 70 yards down the field. There are different ways to win."
With Bill Musgrave as the new offensive coordinator and a two-tight end look expected on the field often, the focus of the offense might still be with (some would a return to) Peterson.
But, despite Frazier's expressed confidence in his receiving corps, he didn't rule out adding another receiver.
"At this point, we're pretty good where we are. We're going to continue to explore all avenues to improve our football team … maybe acquiring a wide receiver at some point," he said. "As we speak, that's not our focus."
OTHERS IN THE BOOKS
Although he wasn't listed on the transactions release for the Vikings, Frazier confirmed that the team reached an agreement with receiver Devin Aromashodu, formerly of the Bears.
"Devin is a long receiver, big receiver who had a big night against us a few years ago up in Chicago. We hope we can take some of that here as well," Frazier said, referring to a seven-catch, 150-yard game in December 2009. "He's a guy I'm familiar with from my days in Indianapolis when he was there. He has an upside to him. We'll give him a chance to compete in training camp."
Frazier also confirmed the re-signing of kicker Ryan Longwell.
"It's a major priority. He's a guy who has been very successful for us," Frazier said. "He's helped us win a lot of games here in Minnesota. I'm glad he's still a Viking. I know he was thrilled and so were we that we were able to retain him."
Frazier's relationship with safety Madieu Williams, going back to their days with the Bengals, didn't trump the business of football. The Vikings released Williams and his $6.13 million cap hit on Thursday.
"As we evaluated our roster and took a look at where things were, it felt like for our team and where we were headed that this was the decision that needed to be made," Frazier said. "Love Madieu. He did a great job for us when he was here. He's one of my personal favorites. I'm hoping that everything works out well for him in his next endeavor, whatever team he ends up with. He was a good player for us. It was just something we felt like we needed to do as we went forward."
THE REMAINING POSSIBILITIES
After signing nose tackle Remi Ayodele, the Vikings seem likely to move on without free agent Pat Williams, but Frazier didn't completely rule that out.
"Not certain still what's going to happen with the Pat situation," Frazier said. "We'll see how this all unfolds in the next few days with free agency with him, along with our situation as we're still trying to put our roster together."
The team's ability to sign linebacker Ben Leber is tied to their financial situation, Frazier indicated.
"He's a guy who's done a great job as well," he said. "I had a chance to speak to Ben on the phone and just explained where we were financially."
The Vikings entered free agency almost $5 million over the salary cap, which they have to be in compliance with by Aug. 4.
CLOSE ON DRAFT PICKS
Signing their draft picks didn't take priority earlier this week when free-agent negotiations started, but with players reporting to training camp on Sunday, progress is being made. In reality, each pick is assigned a slotted minimum and maximum they can make this year and over the life of their four-year contracts, so signing them won't be nearly as difficult as it has been in the past.
"We have some work to do with our own players, along with a couple players we'll take a look at when it comes to free agency," Frazier said. "We're not done yet, but we're close."
The Vikings have 10 picks to sign.
Running back Adrian Peterson is entering the final year of his contract and both sides – the team and Peterson – could benefit from a contract extension. He is scheduled to count more than $12.7 million against the salary cap this year, so lowering that number this year and adding years to his deal would be mutually beneficial.
Right now, however, the Vikings are focused on other priorities.
"We want to be able to make sure that we get Adrian secured at some point," Frazier said. "We're not at that point right now. We've got some things we're trying to take care of. But Adrian is a priority – major priority for us."
"I wouldn't speculate or really look into rumors. I know our roster is evolving. We're trying to do whatever we can to improve our football team and put us in a position to compete in the NFC North. But speculation with players? I don't think I want to go down that road," he said.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.