Wide Receiver Options In Focus

Mike Tice continues to evaluate talent at wide receiver and an offer sheet for Chicago WR D'Wayne Bates may come as early as today.

The Vikings continue their first real foray into free agency in five years today, as Jerome Pathon will meet with team officials and medical specialists to have his ailing foot examined.

However, the Vikings aren't limiting themselves to just Pathon. VU has been told an offer sheet is expected to be made to Chicago WR D'Wayne Bates, perhaps as early as today, but that wouldn't preclude the Vikings from looking to sign Pathon as well.

With Cris Carter and Jake Reed gone, the Vikings are looking to fill the void at wide receiver and would prefer not to use a high draft pick on a wideout unless absolutely necessary.

While Pathon is being considered a starter, Bates would see plenty of action even if Pathon was signed. In Chicago, he was buried behind Marcus Robinson (when healthy), Marty Booker, Dez White and, most recently, top draft pick David Terrell. The Bears have a wealth of wide receivers and, with Bates viewed as potentially a No. 4 or 5 receiver, the Bears likely wouldn't match a decent offer made by any team -- even if it means getting no compensation, thanks to a Bears clerical error earlier this year.

While the team is interested in signing Pathon, at the same time he is getting checked by the medicos, the Vikes could well be finalizing an offer sheet for Bates.

TUESDAY NOTES
* If the Vikings do sign Bates to an offer sheet, under NFL rules, the Bears will have seven days to match the offer or decline, at which time he would officially become a Viking.
* Fantasy football players weep as one. The New York media broke a story yesterday that Cris Carter and Shannon Sharpe were both in New York last week. Not to try to get a job with the Jets or Giants, but to try out as commentators on HBO's "Inside the NFL." Both see the broadcast arena as a showcase for their talents if they don't get contracts to their liking in the NFL. While Sharpe is drawing interest from the Broncos, Seahawks and Raiders, Carter's options at this point seem to be limited down to only Miami.
* Donald Driver, who visited the Vikings last week, is scheduled to visit Kansas City this week and is expected to look into interest from the Rams and Bills.
* VU has been told that the 2002 NFL schedule will be released sometime this week, at which point the Vikings will find out if their current string of Monday Night Football games will continue.

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