And then there were three.
Entering free agency just one week ago today, the Vikings were hopeful of re-signing three of their four top free agents, as well as Cris Carter.
Welcome to Plan B. Two days after losing Robert Griffith and one day after losing Kailee Wong, the Vikings could face a free agent trifecta, as Dale Carter could well sign a new deal with the New Orleans Saints today.
VU has been told that the Saints are willing to offer a whopping four-year, $20 million deal to Carter, but not without some reservations. A very solid Saints source of VU's over the years said the signing would include a $3 million signing bonus, but it would be tiered over three seasons in the event Carter had any problems like the ones that led to a year-long suspension from Denver.
The deal is also said to be linked to signing Carter's brother Jake Reed, who the Saints feel would be a good influence over Carter and help solidify the investment.
In the short-term, the contract would call for Carter to receive about $4 million this season and, due to the growing numbers down the line, VU is being told it is very doubtful Carter will play out the full contract unless he performs at or near a Pro Bowl level.
Much like Griffith and Wong, the prices being paid the former Vikings defenders is just too high for what the Vikings believe the players are worth and, like the previous two days, the Vikings will swallow hard and, for the long-term good of the franchise, allow another free agent they counted on signing to go away.
* In a follow-up to our story from Thursday afternoon, the contract signed by Wong with the Houston Texans was a four-year deal worth $13.2 million with a $4.2 million signing bonus. The key as far as Wong was concerned was being allowed to play an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme the Texans will employ. At times, Wong seemed lost as a middle linebacker in a coventional 4-3 defense and, with the Vikings have no intention of changing their system, it seemed like a natural decision -- as well as a huge chunk of cash.
* Our Rams sources tell us that Cris Carter tried to mend fences with the Rams Thursday, but that Mike Martz refused to take his phone calls and is telling people in the organization that Carter would be better off looking for another team. The Rams have opted to bring in Jacquez Green, who, unlike Carter, showed up Thursday -- a day earlier than he was scheduled to meet with the Rams. There's a guy who wants a ring. How serious is Martz about closing the door on Carter? After the debacle from Wednesday, he made his first contact with free agent Ricky Proehl, whom most thought would be replaced by Carter as the team's possession receiver.
* The Vikings have made Miami DE Kenny Mixon an offer reportedly for four years and $13.5 million, with $3.5 million of that up front signing bonus money.
* Mixon will be busy while mulling the Vikings offer. He is scheduled to meet with the Bengals today and there is interest being shown by the Packers, Redskins and Colts.
* Rick Smith, the agent for WR Donald Hayes, said the wide receiver was impressed with the Vikings and that he had a productive interview with the team. However, he isn't rushing into signing with anyone and will continue to schedule visits with other teams.
* The Lions are trying to raise the bar offensively and spent $16 million to get Az-zahir Hakim away from the Rams Thursday. In addition, the plans are to spend big money on at least one more high-profile player. Visits are scheduled with RB's Warrick Dunn, Garrison Hearst and Ricky Watters, as well as Baltimore CB Duane Starks.
* The New England Patriots are the latest team to inquire about the services of Byron Chamberlain, the last of the four free agents Mike Tice had hoped to target. But, the Pats aren't alone. VU has been told by those close to Chamberlain that the 49ers, Giants and Lions are also interested.
* The Jacksonville Jaguars have been killed by the salary cap, but finally brought in a player for a workout -- former Viking DE Stalin Colinet, who played two years under Jags coach Tom Coughlin at Boston College.
* Mitch Berger, finishing up the rehab on his knee injury, is planning a full slate of visits, including ones with former coaches Brian Billick in Baltimore and Tony Dungy in Indianapolis. Other teams said to be interested include Houston, Miami, Tampa Bay and St. Louis. Ironically, it was thought that one of Berger's strengths would be his ability to handle punting and kickoff chores, but he likely would only do that for the Ravens, Colts and Texans, since the other teams all have strong-legged kickers.
Dale Carter Looks to Be Third Loss
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