Vikings Show Interest In More Top Talent, Trades

The Vikings whisked in two defenders yesterday and signed one, Buffalo Bills nose tackle Pat Williams, while linebacker Antonio Pierce signed with the Giants. So what's next? We've got other inquiries the Vikings are making at receiver, safety and cornerback and track the movement of their own free agents.

Vikings Show Interest In Other Top Prospects, Trade Possibilities
The Vikings whisked in two defenders yesterday and signed one, Buffalo Bills nose tackle Pat Williams, while linebacker Antonio Pierce signed with the Giants. So what's next? We've got other inquiries the Vikings are making at receiver, safety and cornerback and track the movement of their own free agents.

The Vikings made a quick and decisive move Wednesday in signing defensive tackle Pat Williams to a three-year, $13 million contract. His presence in the middle of the line is expected to give a big boost to the Vikings' revamped linebacker corps by keeping blockers off the second wave of defense.

That's part of the reason the Vikings weren't willing to overspend to acquire inside linebacker Antonio Pierce, the former Washington Redskin. Instead, Pierce elected to sign a six-year, $24 million deal with the New York Giants while the Vikings may be content to see how much Williams' presence helps the development of third-year middle linebacker E. J. Henderson in 2005.

The Vikings offered Pierce a contract, too, showing that they are ready and willing to spend reasonable money to acquire more help. But with Pierce off the market, who are the other players the Vikings are looking at?

On defense, Viking Update is being told the team has an interest in cornerback Andre Dyson (Titans), who would play opposite Antoine Winfield, moving tendered restricted free agent Brian Williams into a nickel-back role.

The Vikings also are reportedly interested in a potential trade for Miami cornerback Patrick Surtain.

At safety, the Vikings have also expressed an interest in Arturo Freeman (Miami). The Vikings could end up losing tendered restricted free agent Brian Russell to the Cleveland Browns. Russell met with the Browns yesterday.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have not received serious interest for franchised safety Donovin Darius, though a couple of teams (possibly the Lions and Vikings) expressed to the Jaguars they would keep an eye on the situation as free agency heats up. The Lions made little progress on that front yesterday, so the Vikings may be able to enter the fray for a trade in the coming days.

The Vikings could also lose linebacker Chris Claiborne, an unrestricted free agent, to the St. Louis Rams. The Rams had an interest in Claiborne two years ago, when he signed with the Vikings. Since then, Claiborne has been effective on the field when healthy, but his injuries kept him off the field too often.

The Vikings are making waves on the offensive side of the ball as well. After officially trading away Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders, Minnesota realizes it needs a replacement receiver. Since losing out on Derrick Mason, who signed quickly with the Baltimore Ravens yesterday, the Vikings are showing interest in other available wide receivers.

They are one of at least six teams that have expressed an interest in Washington Redskins wide receiver Rod Gardner, who is on the trading block. After initially eschewing an interest in Pittsburgh wide receiver Plaxico Burress, they are now inquiring about his services. Mason was thought to be the Vikings' top target at the position, so the team's turnabout on Burress is hardly a surprise now that Mason isn't an option.

The Vikings are also rumored to be interested in Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin in a trade for Michael Bennett and a second- or third-round pick. That rumor hasn't been substantiated at this point.

The team is also expected to meet with Baltimore wide receiver Travis Taylor today.

Finally, free agent quarterback Gus Frerotte, who was the top backup to Daunte Culpepper the last two seasons, is expected to visit the Dolphins on Monday.



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