Vikes Free Agent Class Feature Must-Signs

After years of being strapped by the salary cap, the Vikings will get some relief next year -- posing the question who stays and who goes?

The Vikings have been hard pressed against the salary cap for the last three years, thanks to Jeff Diamond's insistance on giving big contracts to players -- like Diamond -- who are no longer with the organization.

While the Vikes are still on the hook for a piece or Robert Smith's contract next year, cap money lost this year for players like Todd Steussie, the late Korey Stringer, John Randle and Randall Cunningham will be off the books -- meaning the Vikings will have a few bucks to spend after factoring in Randy Moss' new deal. Long story short -- contracts don't take plays off.

The question facing the Vikes will be who do they make an effort to sign and who is allowed to move on. The team has 12 free agents and may only make a serious play for two or three of them in the offseason.

Here is a list of the free agents and the likelihood the Vikings will go after re-signing them:
* Gary Anderson -- He's got a retirement home on the Metrodome floor. Unless the team needs the money, he'll be back -- for less jingo than he's being paid now.
* Dale Carter -- He's the real deal. Expect a solid effort to bring him back at a legit salary.
* Byron Chamberlain -- He's added an offensive component to the team that has been lacking and he's as big a team player as there is. Look for the Vikings to give him a decent offer and bring him back for the next two or three years.
* Calvin Collins -- Give him an offer and he'll take it.
* Robert Griffith -- Priority One. He'll cost some money -- Lynch money -- but he's worth it.
* Nate Jacquet -- He's been cut once. Take what you're offered.
* Lance Johnstone -- Remember those monster numbers you saw when he signed his deal? We told you at the time that they weren't real. They're not. If he's willing to low-ball, he's back. He grouses, he's gone.
* Andrew Jordan -- Two words -- Andrew who?
* Harold Morrow -- Teams won't knock down the door to bring the Brinks truck his way. Vet minimum or out the door.
* Jake Reed -- He's Dale Carter's brother. That should buy him one more year at veteran minimum.
* Kailee Wong -- Denny loves him. Many other fans don't. Stanford aside, he's not worth a multi-million dollar deal. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail. If he comes in at a decent price, he's back. If not, buh-bye.

What the Vikes do with these players will go a long way to determining how the "new look" Vikes take shape next year. Go to the VU message board and let us know your thoughts on who's in and who's out.

* Chris Hovan has four sacks -- leading the Vikes. Five Steelers, including three of the four starting linebackers, have four or more sacks -- not good with Daunte Culpepper, a sitting target Sunday.
* As if the Vikes don't have enough problems on the offensive line, Calvin Collins popped a calf muscle Friday, meaning that Corbin Lacina's timetable for coming back has been pushed up faster than expected.
* Jim Kleinsasser not only won't play this week, but VU has been told by team insiders that he might miss two or three more weeks.
* Cory Withrow, a backup center forced into guard duty with the injury to Dave Dixon, was fined $7,500 by the league for what was deemed a bad hit on LB Roosevelt Colvin of the Bears. Withrow has already told VU he intends to appeal the fine.
* The Steelers linebackers are like a sack factory, but football purists refer to the Steelers as "old school." In the age of West Coast Offenses and replication of the latest trends, the Steelers are the last team in the NFL to employ the 3-4 defense. If they continue to be successful, look for more of the same next year.

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