Changing Faces

Perhaps no team is going to have a more different look (at least from the positive perspective) than the Vikings in 2005.

When Randy Moss left the Vikings he said one of his biggest frustrations with the Vikings was that they didn't spend the money needed to be a legitimate contender.

But, since Moss' departure, the Vikings have been arguably the most active team in free agency and the face of the franchise has taken on an entirely new look.

On the defensive side of the ball, Fred Smoot now gives the Vikings two legitimate shut-down cornerbacks, meaning that teams will have to run the ball to be successful. To that end, the Vikings added nose tackle Pat Williams, linebacker Napoleon Harris and safety Darren Sharper -- giving the team four new defensive starters. Throw in the expected return of Ken Irvin and the Vikings will suddenly be deep at corner -- with Irvin and Brian Williams serving as nickel and dime corners if Irvin doesn't have a bigger role at safety.

The changes on offense aren't as apparent, but will be once play begins. Last year, right tackle Mike Rosenthal and tight end Jim Kleinsasser -- two keys to the Vikings' rushing attack -- played a combined three games before being lost for the season due to injury. With their return, the Vikings offense becomes much more potent, as holes are opened for running backs and Daunte Culpepper is afforded more time in the pocket. Throw in the re-signing of Jermaine Wiggins and the free agent signing of wide receiver Travis Taylor and quarterback Brad Johnson and the offense has depth it didn't have last season.

With the potential of drafting a game-breaking wide receiver like Braylon Edwards or Mike Williams or one of the Big Three running backs that might remain at No. 7, the Vikings have continued options ahead of them. With more money to potentially spend, it appears the Vikings are making the three-year run the salary cap age has created in the NFL. Vikings fans have to applaud the effort being made. Perhaps it took the sale (or potential sale) to get the franchise off square one, but the moves made this off-season will make the Vikings a very different team -- for the better.

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