Vikings Start To Look at Free Agency

With the NFL draft looming two months on the horizon, the Vikings' first point of business will be to decide who they keep in free agency and who they pursue.

The difficulty of predicting who the Vikings -- or any other team for that matter -- will take in the draft is contingent on free agency.

Increasingly used more to target specific positions to avoid using a draft pick there, teams have used free agency as a way to slap a band aid on a trouble spot and target long-term needs on draft day.

For the first time in three years, the Vikings may be partial participants in free agency, which many think could be used to shore up one of the worst defenses in the league last year -- adding low-priced veterans to fill in at spots.

The Vikings primary needs are at defensive end, linebacker and cornerback. Here are some of the potentially inexpensive free agents out there at those spots.

DEFENSIVE END -- Chidi Ahanotu (St. Louis), Steve White (Tampa Bay), Reinard Wilson (Cincinnati).

LINEBACKER -- Glenn Cadrez (Kansas City), Jamie Duncan (Tampa Bay), John Fiala (Pittsburgh), Darren Hambrick (Carolina), Robert Jones (Washington), Roman Phifer (New England), Lee Woodall (Denver).

CORNERBACK -- Terrell Buckley (New England), Darrien Gordan (Atlanta), Brian Kelly (Tampa Bay), Emmanual McDaniel (N.Y. Giants), Bryant Westbrook (Detroit).

The top priority for the Vikings remains to sign their own free agents, which is led by Robert Griffith, Dale Carter, Kailee Wong and Byron Chamberlain. Look for the Vikings to get one or all of these players signed -- or at least given a best offer -- before the free agent period begins in March.

* The Tampa Bay saga continues. Just when it looked like Marvin Lewis was signed and sealed, he meets with the wacky Glazer brothers and they say they don't want him. Now rumors are milling again about the Raiders shipping Jon Gruden over, which could open a spot once again for Denny Green in Oakland if Al Davis agrees to the move.
* We're hearing Green Bay is quietly concerned about the continued health of Brett Favre. The Packers don't have a lot of cap space, but are going to be shopping for a veteran backup QB.
* The Bears one-hit wonder season could take a big hit next year, since it is expected Chicago is going to lose center Olin Kreutz, safety Tony Parrish and cornerback Walt Harris.

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