The changes coming on the Vikings have been a long time in the making. Over the past two years, the Vikings have "hidden" money by giving marginal players impossible incentives to reach. Two years ago, journeyman O-lineman Everett Lindsay had $9 million in unclaimed incentives. Last year, Brian Russell had $7 million in potential bonuses he couldn't meet and went unclaimed.
But this year, the Vikings are spending like drunken sailors -- to the delight of their fans. They have addressed all of the positions on their defense -- picking up defensive line help in Pat Williams, a linebacker in Napoleon Harris, a cornerback in Fred Smoot and a safety in Darren Sharper.
Considering that the new faces will be joined by 2004 MIAs Jim Kleinsasser, Mike Rosenthal and Ken Irvin, the Vikings have a minimum of six starters who, barring injury, will be starting on opening day that weren't playing for the team much, if not all, of last year.
With free agency still playing itself out and the draft looming, the Vikings may be done in the free agent market for now. But, with the stockpile of talent picked up so far and the money to pay for more if they want to, the Vikings and their fans have a lot to be hopeful about. If they weren't considered the division favorites prior to this month, they almost have to be now.
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