Trade Winds Blowing This Morning

VU has spent much of Friday night chasing down a hot trade rumor which, contrary to what we've been led to believe at Winter Park, may have some legs.

In the weeks, days and hours leading up to any NFL draft, trade rumors are often viewed like pimples on a teenager's face -- there are many of them and there's no explanation why they're all there.

VU caught wind of one from a well-placed source familiar with previous transactions between the Vikes and the Cleveland Browns that could be the proverbial offer the Vikings can't refuse to move out of the No. 7 spot.

Long story short, the trade proposal would have the Cleveland Browns trading their first-round pick this year and in 2003, WR Kevin Johnson and perhaps an obligatory late- (as in seventh) round pick to the Vikings for the No. 7 spot in this year's draft. Short story long, here's the explanation.

From what we've been told by sources connected with the Browns, where Dennis Green's son Jeremy has made multiple deals with the Vikings, there are two players the Browns covet in the draft -- OT Bryant McKinnie and DT Ryan Sims.

Several things must fall into place for the trade to come off. One of them is that either Detroit or Buffalo takes QB Joey Harrington -- which is no gimme. If that team is Buffalo, there is the potential that San Diego will take OT Mike Williams ahead of McKinnie. The reason McKinnie is key to the equation is that he played for Butch Davis at Miami and Davis has a serious yen to draft his former players and he sees McKinnie as a can't-miss bookend for his improving young team.

That covered, even if McKinnie is gone, the Browns are said to be so convinced that Sims can be an impact DT to a much-improved defense that he can be the added piece to the puzzle that makes the Browns a playoff team. From what we've been told, both players are viewed by the Browns as a player that can put them over the top -- even if carries a high cost.

From the Vikings' perspective, the trade would have two-fold benefits. The team could add Johnson, a playmaking wide receiver who could immediately become a starter alongside Randy Moss, and have a young player instead of an aging veteran that would be gone in a year or two and need to be replaced. Second, the Vikings could use the No. 16 pick to add an offensive tackle like Levi Jones to fill the current void at the left tackle spot. Third, the team would also carry two picks into the first round next season and, if the Browns fall flat much like Washington did after the Brad Johnson trade, it could be a premium pick.

Keep in mind that several things need to happen to make this deal come about, but, from what we're hearing, this isn't simply a fly-by-night rumor. If the chips fall the right way, the Vikings may not be talking about Mike Williams, Ryan Sims or Roy Williams. They may be talking about a pick in the middle of the first round, a starting wide receiver and two picks in the first round of next year's draft.

* The Vikes closed out one potential draft day option by finally agreeing to a deal with TE Hunter Goodwin. He signed a one-year contract Friday for $650,000. Because his signing bonus was only $25,000, he will count only $450,000 against the salary cap -- a league agreement with the players association to help keep veteran players in the league instead of becoming salary cap casualties.
* An early heads-up for Sunday's portion of the draft. The Vikings may be willing to use their compensatory pick at the end of the fourth round to take Purdue punter Travis Dorsch. Since the Vikes have been spoiled by having Mitch Berger as both a punter and kickoff specialist, the team hasn't needed to have an extra roster spot. By drafting Dorsch, it could open the way to bring back Gary Anderson as the field goal kicker for another year.

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