Five players that were with the Vikings for varying lengths will be part of the NFL’s new veteran combine.
In the constant attempt to give players a chance to make an impression on coaching staffs, the NFL will be conducting its inaugural Veteran Combine at the Arizona Cardinals practice facility in Tempe, March 22. Of the 100 or so players that will be attending, five of them have former Vikings ties.
Arguably the most familiar name on the list is cornerback Brandon Burton, who was a fifth-round draft pick of the Vikings in 2011 and was with the team for two seasons before being released.
Also in the mix is cornerback Kip Edwards. An undrafted free agent in 2013, he spent the last five weeks of the 2013 season on the Vikings practice squad.
A trio of players who were on the Vikings roster for a time in 2014 will also be taking part. Wide receiver Lestar Jean was signed as an undrafted free agent following last year’s draft, but was released in June with an injury designation. Cornerback Julian Posey was claimed off waivers by the Vikings from Cleveland in June, but was among the Vikings final roster cuts at the end of August. Finally, defensive end Rakim Cox was one of 16 undrafted free agents signed May 13, but he was cut Aug. 4 when the Vikings signed former Bengals cornerback Chris Crocker.
The Veteran Combine will feature some players who fans may have some familiarity with, including Felix Jones, Michael Bush, Adam Carriker, Jamaal Anderson, Mikel Leshoure and Michael Sam.
In charge of the program will be former Viking Matt Birk
, who is the NFL Director of Football Development. He believes the new Veteran Combine will give players with a dream of playing in the NFL or returning to the game a chance to keep that passion alive.
“Combines have long provided draft-eligible players with the forum needed to showcase their skills to NFL teams,” Birk said. “The NFL Veteran Combine will give veteran free agents a similar opportunity to work out in front of club personnel in a streamlined process.”
The NFL Network will carry a one-hour special on the Combine the night of March 22 at 7 p.m. Central time.
Several scouts had very strong reviews of UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley at his pro day Wednesday. Hundley is expected to be the quarterback that will end what is expected to be a long drought between the time Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota come off to board and the third QB that gets selected.
The Vikings have been in contact with Packers cornerback Tramon Williams, but it hasn’t picked up much in the way of current steam toward getting a contract done. The Vikings waited until March 12 last year – the third day of free agency – before making any signings.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker has been drawing plenty of interest in the second 10 picks of the first round, including the Vikings (currently at pick No. 11 in the first round), Miami (No. 14), San Francisco (No. 15) and San Diego (No. 17). It seems clear where NFL teams envision Parker falling on draft day.
The Vikings made a run for free agent defensive end Michael Johnson a year ago. The former Bengal ultimately signed a five-year, $43.75 million contract with Tampa Bay last year. The Bucs released him and he is now an unrestricted free agent who earned his big contract with Tampa Bay playing in Mike Zimmer’s defense in Cincinnati. It would appear that, if interested, the Vikings would have a fast track to signing Johnson.
The Vikings may have been lucky that they got their stadium deal done when they did. Part of the 2016 budget from President Obama will propose including banning the use of tax-exempt bonds to pay for professional sports facilities. The Treasury Department claims that forbidding state and local governments from issuing tax-exempt bonds for stadiums and arenas would save the federal government approximately $542 million over 10 years.
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