Vikes Play Franchise Waiting Game

With just one day left for teams to either sign players or slap the franchise designation on them, the Vikings and other teams looking at cornerbacks and defensive ends are playing the waiting game.

The Vikings continue to watch the free agent market get depleted somewhat at the positions they are most interested. The cornerback spot has already lost its top two prospects -- Champ Bailey of the Redskins and Charles Woodson of the Raiders -- and more names may be added by the Tuesday afternoon deadline.

Chris McAlister, Bobby Taylor and Antoine Winfield are all cornerbacks several teams covet, but players who may be taken off the market by the franchise tag being applied to them. At defensive end, Jevon Kearse may end up with the same fate for the Titans today or tomorrow.

The Vikes have made it clear they're not going to use their franchise or transition tags on any of their free agents. Now it's simply a matter of wait and see to find out who is available and who is taken off the market before free agency begins in a little more than a week.

* The Vikings have never been aggressive in the early stages of free agency. Last year, the Lions were concerned the Vikes would jump on Dre Bly, so they increased their offer to him before he left Detroit and he was a Pro Bowler this year. Similarly, the Chiefs spent freely early on defensive players last year, which went a long way to helping the team turn itself around and finish with a 13-3 record in 2003.
* VU has been told by our sources that at least three teams -- the Rams, Redskins and Cardinals -- will likely make a push to sign Jim Kleinsasser. Our Rams guy says Mike Martz wants an overpowering blocker to protect Marc Bulger and open holes for an aging Marshall Faulk. Our Redskins guy said Joe Gibbs loves what he has seen of Kleinsasser's blocking and our Cards guy said Denny Green still has a jones for Sass, who he traded up for to draft.

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