Vikings Blitzes

It probably didn't look that way to Dennis Green this summer, but free-agent movement in the NFL decreased this year.

Free agent numbers game
When the unrestricted free agency period ended in July, the numbers showed something different than what most Vikings fans were feeling. While the Vikings continued to lose solid players to free agency, they weren't with the majority of the rest of the league.

The numbers from the NFL say that player movement in unrestricted free agency is down. In fact, it was down enough in the spring and summer of 2001 that it was the second-lowest year for player movement. Only 93 unrestricted free agents went to another team, compared to 107 in 2000, 115 in 1999 and 110 in 1998.

The all-time low since the inception of free agency (1993) was the 85 unrestricted free agents that joined a new team in 1997. The high-movement mark was in 1995, when 171 UFAs went to another team.

For the third year in a row, no franchise players went to another team, and for the second year in a row, no transition players went to another team.

New England signed the most unrestricted free agents from other teams this summer, with nine. Kansas City and Denver each signed eight, while the Vikings signed only two — Byron Chamberlain and Lance Johnstone.

Nate Jacquet, Fernando Smith and Andrew Jordan were the only unrestricted Vikings to sign again with Minnesota. They were part of 73 UFAs NFL-wide to re-sign with their old club.

Four restricted free agents — no Vikings — signed with new clubs, while RFAs Kailee Wong and Matt Birk each accepted their one-year tenders from the Vikings. League-wide, 97 RFAs signed with their old club, as did three UFAs with the right of first refusal, including now-former Viking John Davis.

Two transition players and three franchise players re-signed with their old club throughout the league.

* Ron Yary, recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will be inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor at halftime of the Vikings-Panthers game. The former offensive tackle becomes the seventh Viking to receive that honor, joining Jim Finks, Bud Grant, Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, Paul Krause and Jim Marshall. Yary will also presented his Hall of Fame ring by John Bankert, the executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yary played 14 seasons for the Vikings and was named All-Pro six times and played in seven Pro Bowls. He also started in Super Bowls IV, VII, IX and XI. He missed only two games with an injury and started 180.
* Talk of the Vikings signing defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy is probably over after the former Seahawk announced his retirement. Kennedy had spent 11 seasons in the NFL and made the AFC Pro Bowl team seven times.
* Several former Vikings also became former players for other teams on the two big roster cutdown days before the regular season began. They are: Defensive lineman Ben Williams (Dallas); offensive lineman LeShun Daniels (Jacksonville); linebacker Rob Holmberg (New England); tight end Johnny McWilliams (New England); guard Nick O'Brien (New Orleans); tight end Giles Cole (St. Louis); wide receiver Darryl Daniel (Carolina, placed on practice squad); running back Amp Lee (Detroit); guard Orlando Bobo (Baltimore), center Mike Solwold (Dallas) and linebacker Antico Dalton (New England). Not all of the aforementioned actually made the Vikings' 53-man roster in the past, but all of them were at least a part of the squad in one camp or another.
* Kato Serwanga, the brother of Vikings cornerback Wasswa Serwanga, was released by New England.
* A few Vikings switched jersey numbers with the decrease in roster size. Linebacker Fearon Wright went from 66 to 59 and Jeff Hazuga went from 72 to 90.
* Cris Carter will launch a new e-commerce web site Sunday,, to provide the sports community with expert information about health, training and nutrition and a line of products, including natural supplements.
* Moe Williams quickly signed with Brian Billick and the Baltimore Ravens after his release from the Vikings. Baltimore also signed former Vikings running back Terry Allen as their starter earlier in training camp after Jamal Lewis was lost for the season with a knee injury. The Vikings will face Billick, Allen, Williams, Randall Cunningham, Obafemi Ayanbadejo and Qadry Ismail — all one-time Vikings — Sept. 17 in Baltimore. VU

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