Tice Confident Heading Into Free Agency

While not identifying names, Mike Tice says the Vikings won't lose any free agents this offseason -- at least not anyone they want.

The Vikings are confident that with an improving salary cap situation coming this year and next year that the Vikings aren't going to be at the mercy of the salary cap.

Because of that, Tice is saying that the Vikings will be able to re-sign the free agents they most want to keep.

While Tice didn't mention any specific players, VU has been told that the top players on his wish list to keep are safety Robert Griffith and linebacker Kailee Wong. However, unless both are signed to long-term contracts, they will both provide a pretty hefty cap hit that could deplete much of the available room under the 2002 salary cap.

With the pending release of Ed McDaniel and Orlando Thomas, the Vikings will likely free up enough space to potential be a low-ball participant in free agency this year.

* VU is hearing that there may be an interest in bringing back Randall McDaniel if the Bucs aren't content to keep him. McDaniel was one of the players left unprotected for next month's expansion draft by the Buccaneers, which could spell the end of McDaniel's brief Bucs career.
* One of our sources with the Bucs dropped an interesting Denny Green note on us. The Bucs are interested in trying to get Jon Gruden away from Oakland and would require a trade of draft picks to get him. If Tampa can work out a deal to get Gruden, the name at the top of Al Davis' list of potential replacements is Green -- who took himself out of consideration for other coaching vacancies in hopes of getting an offer in 2003 from Oakland or San Francisco.
* Tice said that a new potential special teams coach has emerged. He intends to talk to Chicago's Mike Sweatman, whose contract with the Bears expires after the Super Bowl.
* Frank Gilliam said this weekend that so far no teams have come to the Vikings looking for a trade. As of now, the Vikings are targeting defensive end and linebacker as their top needs, but there may not be a player at either position that wouldn't be seen as a stretch with the No. 7 overall pick.
* Former Viking Jack Del Rio, who was a defensive assistant with the Ravens, agreed to a contract Saturday to become the Carolina defensive coordinator. He was also being courted by the Detroit Lions before signing on with the Panthers, who were rated last in defense this season.
* Kevin Gilbride, who interviewed for the Vikings offensive coordinator position, is expected to sign on soon with the Buffalo Bills as their new O.C.
* From the "What the...?" Department comes this: New Orleans has always been known for its bizarre antics and quirky persona, but the latest rumor has a lot of people shaking their heads. A New Orleans newspaper, a local TV station and several talk radio stations are passing along a rumor that WR Joe Horn is the father of OT Willie Roaf's baby. You think things are bad here, imagine trying to deflect those questions. Damon Runyon lives.

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