Plaxico Burress is off the market and the Vikings' unrestricted free-agent radar signal may be fading after an impressive run of signings. But with a review of who has been signed for how much, there are still restricted free agents left to be signed. And it's also a good time to take a step back and look at the team's unrestricted free agents who haven't signed elsewhere yet.
With Plaxico Burress
gone to the Giants and the Rod Gardner
trade talks with Washington on hold indefinitely, the Vikings probably will have to use the seventh pick in the draft or trade up into the top five if they want a player capable of being their No. 1 receiver.
receiver Mike Williams
probably will be available at the seventh pick. But whether he can help the Vikings immediately is debatable since he missed the 2004 season as part of the Maurice Clarett
eligibility court battle.
The Vikings would love to draft Michigan
's Braylon Edwards
. Edwards would help ease the team into the post-Randy Moss
era immediately, but he is expected to be long gone by the seventh pick.
Meanwhile, the Vikings did add some depth to their receiving corps by signing former Ravens wideout Travis Taylor
this week. Taylor, the 10th overall pick 2000, has a Ravens record 204 catches for 2,758 yards and 15 touchdowns while playing with eight different quarterbacks in five years.
The Vikings have penciled Taylor in as the No. 3 receiver behind Nate Burleson
and Marcus Robinson
. Taylor targeted the Vikings in free agency, arguing that he will produce like a first-round pick once he is teamed with Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper
Taylor provided good depth. But the Vikings still lack a big playmaker at receiver.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
PK Morten Andersen will be 45 next season; the Vikings won't re-sign him unless it's an emergency situation.
C Billy Conaty was a third-string center and strictly an insurance policy for banged-up starter Matt Birk; he won't be re-signed unless Birk's health continues to deteriorate.
PK Jose Cortez (not tendered as RFA) got better each week as a kickoff specialist; the Vikings would prefer acquiring a placekicker who can also kick off.
RG David Dixon was a rock for the team last season, but he'll be 36; the Vikings are making plans without him. They've already shuffled their starting line, moving LG Chris Liwienski to right guard.
OL Adam Haayer (not tendered as RFA) is a versatile backup who can play every position but center; the Vikings have invested a lot of time in developing him and would like to keep him.
DT Chris Hovan, the team's No. 1 draft pick in 2000, is coming off two consecutive disappointing seasons; he was benched in 2004 and was inactive down the stretch and into the playoffs. The Vikings and Hovan have already said their goodbyes.
LB Keith Newman is a strong, but one-dimensional outside linebacker; he's a good pass rusher but a terrible cover man. The Vikings haven't ruled out re-signing him, but they would like to upgrade the position.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
QB Shaun Hill (tendered at $656,000 with no compensation) has been the No. 3 QB for three seasons; his arm is below average, but he knows the offense and is a good No. 3. The Vikings want him back.
S Willie Offord (tendered at $656,000 with a third-round pick as compensation) is the team's special teams captain and still a potential starter at safety; the Vikings would like to keep him, but still view him as a backup/special teamer. He stepped in for SS Corey Chavous in the playoffs and held his own.
FS Brian Russell (tendered at $656,000 with no compensation) has started every game the past two seasons, but the Vikings desperately want an upgrade at the position. Russell is an overachieving former special teams standout; the team wants an outspoken physical force in the secondary.
CB Brian Williams (tendered at $1.43M with 1st-round pick as compensation) should be back as the team's nickel back after the signing of Fred Smoot.
WR Kelly Campbell: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.
TE Jermaine Wiggins: UFA; $7.3M/5 yrs, $1M SB.
C Cory Withrow: FA, had been released by Vikings; 1 yr.
LB Sam Cowart (trade Jets).
LB Napoleon Harris (trade Raiders).
QB Brad Johnson: FA Buccaneers; $6M/4 yrs, $1.2M SB; 2005 cap: $1.3M
S Darren Sharper: FA Packers; $14M/4 yrs, $1M SB/$3M RB; 2005 cap: $4.25M.
CB Fred Smoot: UFA Redskins; $34M/6 yrs, $10.8M SB.
WR Travis Taylor: UFA Ravens; $2M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
DT Pat Williams: UFA Bills; $13M/3 yrs, $2M SB/$4M RB ‘06.
LB Chris Claiborne: UFA Rams; $10.5M/3 yrs, $3.6M SB.
QB Gus Frerotte: UFA Dolphins; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
WR Randy Moss (traded Raiders).
CB Terrance Shaw (released).
With base salary and signing bonus, FS Darren Sharper will make $5.5 million in his first year with the Vikings. He signed with the Vikings two days after the Packers released him rather than pay a $2.6 million roster bonus. The Packers also tried to reduce his 2005 pay from $6 million to $2 million. "Everyone wants to play for one team for their entire career," Sharper said. "But, realistically, that doesn't happen a lot with the salary cap and the way things work today. It will be a little different wearing the Vikings uniform, but Minnesota stepped up to the plate for me and I'm excited about starting something new."
The signing of Sharper officially closed the door on a trade happening with Jacksonville for strong safety Donovin Darius. The Jaguars turned down two trade proposals from the Vikings. The Vikings offered to swap their first first-round pick, the seventh overall, for the Jaguars' first pick, the 21st overall. They also offered a third-round pick. "That ends that," Vikings vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski said of the Darius trade possibilities after Sharper was signed.