Wide Receiver: The No. 2 Unknown

The Vikings still don't have a proven No. 2 wide receiver to complement Randy Moss, but does that mean they'll go shopping for a free agent? A league source and a team source weigh in on the options, from within and outside the organization.

Finding a complementary receiver to line up opposite Randy Moss continues to be a position of question and intrigue for the Minnesota Vikings. With 11 wide receivers on the roster, one would seemingly believe that the Vikings would be comfortable with the depth and quality at the position.

Providing quarterback Daunte Culpepper another viable option in the passing game, as well as relieving some of the double- and triple-team efforts on Randy Moss, the Vikings have discussed at length the state of their wide receiver corps. With an influx of youth and inexperience at the position, the options could be on the present roster.

Following a disappointing 2002 campaign, Derrick Alexander has re-dedicated himself to the game, and the Vikings are optimistic that the receiver can return to the form he showed with the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs.

"Alexander has the opportunity to prove himself to his teammates, the coaching staff and the fans of the Minnesota Vikings." a team source said. "Last season the organization was down on Derrick. He really didn't appear to be into it. Realizing that this may be his last significant shot as his career winds down, he has really worked hard this offseason.

"I would be surprised if Derrick doesn't come in this summer and battles, gives it his all and contributes in a big way. His experience is invaluable. With the youth we have here, he could really play a major role in the growth of this team."

The wide receiver options are limited for the Vikings if they look past their roster. They had serious contract talks with former Miami wide receiver Oronde Gadsden, which proved fruitless when Gadsden wanted an enormous signing bonus, especially for a player coming off season-ending wrist surgery. Antonio Freeman is available and wants to play for a playoff contender, and J.J. Stokes, late of the San Francisco 49ers, is another option.

"Gadsden blew whatever opportunity he had with the Vikings when he turned down a good deal with them a couple months ago. Now he will be a player than ultimately signs for something close to the minimum," a league source said. "Freeman is an option, and the Vikings are really in no hurry to get something done. Once we get through the minicamps, when some evaluating will be done, we'll get a clearer picture on the needs. Freeman is still a serviceable receiver, but the question is how much of an upgrade he is over D'Wayne Bates and a healthy Alexander. Time will tell."

"Getting some pressure off Culpepper and Moss is the goal. With some of the young talent on the Vikings roster at the wide receiver position, adding one of these veterans will only take valuable playing time away from these kids, and I'm not sure if they are really a significant upgrade."

With training camp on the horizon, the questions at the wide receiver position could be as important as any for the Vikings.

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