Vikings Turning Attention To WR

After striking out on getting a wide receiver in the draft, the Vikings will now turn their attention to the free agent pool -- now and after June 1.

Mike Tice and the Vikings brass in the war room last weekend weren't against taking a wide receiver high in the draft. In fact, under one scenario, it could have happened in the first round.

If, as the Vikings had expected, Joey Harrington had not gone off the board with the third pick of the draft, there was a good chance that all five -- or four-and-a-half -- players they had rated as blue chippers, were off the board they would have listened to trade offers to move down in the first round. The four blue chippers they saw were DE Julius Peppers, DT Ryan Sims and OT's Mike Williams and Bryant McKinnie -- the top personnel was split on CB Quentin Jammmer.

Had all five of those players been gone, Tice said the team would have looked into moving down and taking WR Donte Stallworth.

After the Vikes took LB Raonall Smith in the second round, Tice told VU that he was scoping in on WR Josh Reed with the Vikings pick, but he went off the board before the Vikings had the chance to take him.

Instead, none of the seven Vikings picks turned out to be wide receivers and the team has to take a new approach to filling out the one glaring vacancy on the Vikings depth chart.

Armed with a new depth chart Sunday when Tice spoke to the media, he had a opening opposite Randy Moss designated as "free agent" for a wide receiver to battle D'Wayne Bates for a starting job. That process will begin this week.

The Vikings began working Sunday when it was obvious no potential starter was coming from the draft. Former Jaguar receiver Sean Dawkins is scheduled for a visit this week and will be at Winter Park to talk about a contract and his role with the offense.

But the team is also keeping an eye on June 1. That is when several big-name receivers are going to get their freedom. Keenan McCardell is already being talked about by Cleveland and a couple of other teams as a possibility, while Antonio Freeman didn't attend a Packers mini-camp in the expectation of being released, and the Chiefs restructured Derrick Alexander's contract to make him a cap casualty June 1.

The work never stops for the Vikings. While offensive tackle and linebacker may have been cleared up for now, wide receiver will become the top priority.

MONDAY NOTES
* The contract signed by punter Kyle Richardson was a one-year deal for $550,000.
* The future of Gary Anderson remains in some doubt. The Vikings have only three available positions for the five spots viewed as special teams-specific -- kickoffs, field goal kicking, punting, holding and long-snapping. Unless the team can find a holder and long snapper that figure into other positions, the job of kicker may have to be a one-man show. While Tice wants Anderson back, he called him Sunday to visit with him after signing Richardson, who doesn't kick off. The possibility exists that the Vikings will have to go after a kicker who can handle all kicking duties -- one name that has surfaced on the free agent market is veteran Doug Brien -- but Tice has a lot of respect for Anderson and wants to lay out the situation to him.
The Vikings won't have the luxury of filling three of the special teams spots with one player anymore -- Mitch Berger was not only the punter, but kickoff specialist and holder on field goals and extra points.
* The Vikings signed 10 position players Sunday to go with a couple of street free agent kickers signed over the weekend. The players are Iowa RB Jeremy Allen, Florida State WR Atrews Bell, Minnesota safety Jack Brewer, Illinois FB Carlos Daniels, Wisconsin kick returner Nick Davis, Louisiana-Lafaeyette safety Kyries Hebert, Maryland QB Shaun Hill, Angelo State LB Dane Krager, Southern WR Devin Lewis and Marshall LB Max Yates. More signings are expected today.

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