What's Left In Building Team?

The Vikings made a big push early in free agency, signing cornerback Antoine Winfield and wide receiver Marcus Robinson. They do have a couple of positions yet on their wish list, and a team source gives us the organization's thinking on those positions and what is left to do to round out the team.

The free-agent market is slowing, especially for the Vikings. They don't have a great deal of interest in any of the big names left on the market, and little interest in the mid-level players left.

Maybe it's a sign of an improved team, with many of the holes filled, or maybe it's a statement on those left on the market. Either way, the Vikings are winding down this session of free agency.

"I don't think there is anybody out there that can come in and do what we want," a team source said. "I don't think we need to put a lot of money into the players that are out there now."

The Vikings still have some positions to fill, and they know it. But those positions may have to wait until the draft, especially one of the most speculated about — right defensive end.

"Here's our opinion: At the right defensive end position, everybody says you can have a run-down guy and then you have a guy who can rush the passer. But people are passing now on run downs. You need a guy that can hold up on the run," the source said. "We did a good job in the month of December last year by playing (Chuck) Wiley at right end, but you weren't going too get much explosiveness out of that position with Wiley on run-down passes. He wasn't going to be around the quarterback, so that's what you're dealing with."

The team would like to find a player that can hold up against the run while offering explosiveness and speed around the end to get to the quarterback on pass plays. But there isn't anyone still out there on the free-agent market that can fill that need, according to the source.

While outside linebacker was targeted as one position of need, the franchise may be looking harder at middle linebacker, at least a backup middle linebacker for E.J. Henderson (it's looking more and more like Greg Biekert will be retiring).

"The linebacker that would be helpful would have some experience … be good on special teams and give us some help in the middle linebacker position. I think we'd like that, but I don't know if we can get it," the source said.

The Vikings have already found their cornerback (Antoine Winfield), their No. 2 wide receiver (Marcus Robinson) and a backup defensive tackle, which became a wish-list item for defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.

"Our present defensive scheme with our new coordinator, he wants to, at times, have a lot of strength inside," the source said, which is why they signed Steve Martin.

If a linebacker comes along in free agency, the Vikings may make a push for him yet. But largely the team is now looking at the draft as a way to fill additional needs and depth. After that, there is always a second wave of free agency after June 1 and cuts at the end of training camp.

"Some of these things can be solved in the draft, so it's not something we have to do now," the source said. "Mike (Tice) talked about doing the two things we needed to do — signing (Winfield) and Kleinssaser. We can go ahead and now fit parts."




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