While the big-money signings in free agency have slowed, the Minnesota Vikings continue to explore the market. Despite actively looking at upgrading depth along the defensive line and linebacker positions, the team remains frugal in its overtures to potential candidates.
The team entered the off-season with questions about the overall talent at the defensive end positions, and they received some bad news when Kenny Mixon was convicted of a DUI. All the notable defensive ends are off the market, except for restricted free agent Adewale Ogunleye of the Miami Dolphins.
The Vikings inquired early in free agency about potentially trading for the pass-rushing defensive end. By tagging Ogunleye, the Dolphins would receive compensation in the sum of first- and third-rounds draft selections if a team such as the Vikings were to sign the rising star.
"Ogunleye is an interesting player and one which could bolster a team needing a defensive end that can get to the quarterback. He is quick and strong, he can play the run, but getting after the quarterback is his game," one NFC team general manager said recently. "Heading into free agency, he was a hot commodity, but with the Dolphins holding firm and not showing the willingness to deal him, he is lost in limbo."
Lost in limbo may be an understatement for Ogunleye, as he has the option to play for the Dolphins or hope a team can convince Miami to trade him.
"At the present time we don't have enough of an interest in Adewale Ogunleye to surrender a first- and third-round draft selection for his services. He is a talented player and one which could immensely help us, but the price is too steep," a Vikings team source said. "We have had many discussions about the players at the (defensive) end spots, and he is the lone outstanding talent really available.
"As an organization, we are not willing to surrender multiple picks, especially selections that high in the selection process. Let's not forget, you still have to pay him (Ogunleye) and he is seeking a significant contract."
With the Vikings apparently out of the picture, the team intends to continue with their player evaluations and look at other options available in free agency and in the upcoming college player draft this April.
"There are a couple players remaining in free agency which could come in and contribute, but we are not certain if they would necessarily be an upgrade," the team source said. "With the draft around the corner, there are a handful of intriguing prospects we have an interest in. We will certainly continue to work towards improving this team, and the draft is an avenue we will utilize.
"The ability to select depth along the defensive line will only enhance what we are trying to accomplish here."
And for the waning interest in Ogunleye?
"We are interested, but don't expect anything to occur," the source said. "We are already looking ahead to the remainder of the free agent player signing period and the draft."
How Will DE Get Upgraded?
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