Rumors Swirling Fast And Furious

It's been a busy couple of weeks of Vikings and NFL rumors. Here's what we've heard about those involving some of the Vikings' top players, former players and former coaches.

The rumor mill about Randy Moss wanting to be traded continues to churn, but this could just be old rumors getting rehashed.

The mess started when Vikings coach Mike Tice said last month on KFAN radio that he thought Randy Moss was a tough nut to crack. When another sports writer got word to Moss about this, the writer then reported that Moss was upset about the comment.

Now come the rumors that Moss wants to be traded. Vikings officials are saying the whole thing is being overblown and Moss will stay in Purple.

Since Moss does little talking to the media, especially during the off-season, it's hard to include his side of the story, but The Sporting News rekindled the controversy this week saying the Vikings were quietly gauging Moss' trade value and that Moss had given them a list of teams he would play for. Team officials denied that as well.

The writer who got the controversy rolling is Larry Fitzgerald, whose son is highly touted draft prospect Larry Fitzgerald Jr. More on that connection later.

  • On to the Michael Bennett trade rumors: This one made it out to Washington D.C. during the Champ Bailey sweepstakes. However, according to one Redskins beat reporter VU talked to, that one was quickly put to bed (along with a different scenario from another team) as soon as the Clinton Portis-for-Bailey negotiations began. Obviously, the rumor with the most credence won out, as Bailey and a second-rounder are expected to be shipped to Denver later this week for Portis.

  • Are the Redskins really that interested in Jim Kleinsasser, who is expected to become an unrestricted free agent tomorrow if he can't reach an agreement with the Vikings? Yes, the Redskins are definitely interested.

    After listening to VU's description of Kleinsasser as a versatile blocking/receiving tight end that also plays H-back, beat writer John Keim said that is exactly what new Redskins coach Joe Gibbs is looking for. Add to it that Washington owner Daniel Snyder has never met a signing bonus he didn't like, and Keim is pretty convinced that Kleinsasser will be a Redskin in short order.

    The irony of this is that Tice deeply admired Gibbs' coaching style and has said that signing Kleinsasser is the Vikings' top free-agent priority. The Vikings didn't appear al that interested in going after Kleinsasser hard one month ago because of the injuries he has fought the last few years. However, they've made at least a modest push to sign him in the last week before he hits free agency tomorrow. If a deal with the Vikings doesn't get done in the coming hours, it looks like the teacher will be stealing from the disciple.

  • The Vikings could also be in competition with the Redskins over free-agent-to-be Jevon Kearse. There are two ironies on this item, too. Since Tice and Gibbs are both big on durability, it's somewhat of a surprise that either team would be seriously interested in the oft-injured "Freak." For sure the Redskins are, but the Vikings may be a little more reserved in their interest in the Titans defensive end that could have been drafted by the Vikings in 1999 when they selected Daunte Culpepper instead. If the Vikings don't make a serious effort to sign Kearse, injuries and money will be the primary reasons.

  • Another amusing story out of Washington involves a former Vikings tight end. Byron Chamberlain was criticized for his poor work ethic and inability to control his weight during his time in Minnesota. It doesn't look like it got any better during a short stint with the Redskins last year after his release from the Vikings. During one game when the Redskins made him inactive, Chamberlain was rumored to be waiting in the concession line at FedEx Field. With Gibbs' philosophy of strong work ethic and character, Chamberlain lacked in both departments, and some Vikings coaches are still miffed with his conditioning efforts last year.

  • Back to the Fitzgeralds. It should be noted with the Moss vs. Tice trade rumors that both Fitzgerald Sr., the writer, and Fitzgerald Jr., the extremely talented wide receiver, are good friends with Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green. Senior got to know Green well when he was head coach of the Vikings and Junior was a ball boy for the team. Junior got to work out with Vikings receivers Moss and Cris Carter after practice. Carter especially worked hard with Junior after practices, and if Junior would have been wearing No. 80 you'd swear it was Carter.

    If he is to be believed, Junior would like to play for new Cardinals coach Dennis Green as much as Green would like to have him.

    "To be able to play for Coach Green, that would be huge," Junior said at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

    Green calls the Pittsburgh wide receiver the best player in this draft. If that's not enough, Green also has done radio work with Senior.

  • Speaking of Green, he became known for some of his "say what?" comments in Minnesota. It looks like that trend may continue in Arizona.

    Green on Cardinals tight end Freddie Mitchell: "I'll say this, if Freddie can start for us this year, he should go to the Pro Bowl. If Freddie can't go to the Pro Bowl, he'll probably not start for us. That's what his potential is. And if he's not doing that, then I'm not sure why he should be playing for us."

  • The Vikings' official minicamp dates are set at May 7-9, two weeks after the 2004 draft. It is the first look at the rookies in uniform. Training camp is tentatively set to begin July 30.

    — A variety of additional sources were used to compile this report.

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