Who Dat? Who Dat?

What's the deal with the New Orleans Saints? You'd swear the Vikings, not the Tampa Bay Bucs, have moved to the NFC South with New Orleans as their mutual pursuit of free agents continued Thursday.

The Vikings and the New Orleans Saints have a mutual history. From playoff games to shared scrimmages during training camp, the Vikes and the Saints have a shared common ground.

However, this off-season it seems like the Saints are going the extra mile to disrupt the Vikings' plans. That continued Thursday with the Saints signing DT Grady Jackson, who was scheduled to visit Winter Park.

Jackson, who was targeted by the Vikings for a starting DT job, cancelled his visit with the team to sign a two-year, $3.3 million deal with the Saints.

New Orleans, looking to replace La'Roi Glover, who signed with Dallas, beat the Vikes to the punch by offering Jackson more than a half-million dollars up front to stop his free agent pursuits. Seeing that the Jets had offered him simply a one-year deal for $850,000, he was moving on up and opted out of talking to the Vikings -- even though VU was told the team was willing to make Jackson a very competitive offer.

Four players who either were with the Vikings or were targeted by the Vikes are now in the Big Easy. Wednesday, Jerome Pathon agreed to a four-year deal with the Saints and, during the early stages of free agency, Dale Carter, one of the Vikings' top free agent priorities, signed with the Saints, along with his brother Jake Reed.

For fans who hate Tampa Bay, this is good news, but, for those who are fans of the Vikings, you have to wonder what Minnesota did to get the Saints as their main competition, other than beating them in the 2000 playoffs.

FRIDAY NOTES
* The word coming out of the draft rumor mill is that the top four defensive tackles on the 2002 draft chart -- Albert Haynesworth, John Henderson, Ryan Sims and Wendell Bryant -- are all going to be gone by the No. 12 pick held by Arizona. If that's true, teams looking for an impact DT will be jumping on draft day to move up. That could play well for the Vikings, if teams are willing to give up multiple picks to move into their coveted spot -- a selection point at which all four may still remain.
* As reported earlier, Brad Badger officially signed with the Oakland Raiders, inking a one-year deal for $650,000. Badger and his agent had offered to return to the Vikings for a veteran minimum contract, but the Vikes said no thanks to the offer.

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