Quarterbacks around the NFL could be seeing the unemployment line this week, with a handful of established veterans rumored to be potentially released by teams looking to shave salary off their league-imposed cap number.
Those players will be of little interest to the Minnesota Vikings. In fact, the Vikings aren't expected to show a lot of interest in many positions, but linebacker could be one of those that piques their curiosity. Several team sources have expressed concern about the youth at that position. They may also entertain the thought of adding depth at safety or even on the offensive line, but linebacker is the position to receive the most interest at Winter Park.
The following is a look at a few players around the league who might get released in this next phase of free agency and have the potential to be Vikings simply because of the position they play, with input from those who closely follow the team.
LB Jeremiah Trotter, Washington — Trotter has been mentioned among Vikings sources as being a potential target for the team, and he will likely be the top target if he is indeed cut by the Redskins this week. He was given permission to seek a trade in March, but the Vikings were willing to wait and see if he gets released. They believe he could return to his productive days of yesteryear if he joined the team and moved to the strong side. He could also end up returning to Philadelphia. He has a surgically repaired knee and was experiencing pain with that last year, even saying he considered retirement, but Trotter picked up his game later in the season and would be a valuable addition if the Vikings can get him. All that after signing a seven-year, $35 million contract in 2002.
LB Zeke Moreno, San Diego — A starting linebacker a year ago, Moreno has been pushed aside with new acquisitions and a new defensive scheme. Moreno is slow, even by linebacker standards, but has a knack for making plays. He came in and replaced Junior Seau with tackles but lacks any of the emotion needed from a middle linebacker. With so many new faces on the scene in San Diego, he could be a late training camp casualty.
LB Carlos Polk, San Diego — A special teams demon who has rarely seen the field entering year four. He is a huge man who would be perfect for goal line stands but substandard range and the inability to fight off blocks in traffic limit his plans of playing every down. Give him some space, as he gets when he runs down the field on special teams and he could be a great fit. It is rare that any player has space playing defense. He will likely be gone with other players capable of stepping up on special teams.
LB Jason Gildon, Pittsburgh — Unlike the two San Diego linebackers, Gildon has been a quality starter in the league, but as an 11-year veteran his speed and production is slowing. He has become a liability in covering receivers, and considering the Vikings have been looking to upgrade speed on defense, he doesn't seem like a likely fit. Gildon is due a salary of $3.65 million this season and his cap value is nearly $5 million. Even if the Steelers wanted to re-work his contract in the same manner they did with running back Jerome Bettis, because of his remaining signing bonus, the best they could do would be to get his cap value into the $2 million range. And considering Gildon won't be a starter, that's too much money. Money won't be the issue for the Vikings, but his age will be.
S Robert Griffith —Griffith was signed from the Vikings several years ago and was a favorite of then defensive coordinator Foge Fazio. His $2 million-plus contract is deemed by many to be greater than the value he provides, as Griffith has a tendency to go for the big hit rather than the sure tackle. The Browns, however, are in good shape with the salary cap and not forced to make a move at this time. Butch Davis likes Griffith's locker room leadership, a quality in much need on one of the NFL's youngest teams in 2003. The Browns will probably keep Griffith, but his salary/production ratio isn't ideal.
Positions Of Interest
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