Vikings Part of Free Agent Boom

Corey Chavous is just one of the more than 500 free agents that hit the market in March. The Vikings are part of a new record-setting trend of grabbing free agents to build a team.

Leave it to the NFL to finally learn how to work the salary cap. After years of having teams forced into mediocrity by the cap after signing too many huge contracts, the league has finally learned how to work the cap to its advantage and it's showing up in free agency.

The number of free agent signings is at an all-time high since the league adopted its current free agent policy in 1995. Those numbers will grow even larger after June 1, when teams release some high-priced veterans and even more talent enters the free agent pool.

When asked why this year has been different, one NFL analyst told VU the primary reason is that teams that have long since not been players in free agency, like the Vikings, Steelers, 49ers and Cowboys, now have re-entered the fray. In addition, teams are trying to copy the style that helped the Patriots go from last to Super Bowl champs in one year -- signing free agents with minimal cap impact and adding more bodies instead of one impact player.

The Vikings have embraced this concept, signing DL Kenny Mixon, Lorenzo Bromell and Chuck Wiley, LB Henri Crockett, CB Corey Chavous, S Ronnie Bradford, P Kyle Richardson, K Doug Brien, RB Moe Williams and WRs Sean Dawkins and D'wayne Bates all without breaking the bank -- as of today, the Vikings still have about $8 million under the salary cap.

By the time free agency is over, the Vikings could have as many as 15 free agents who will see significant playing time and all the while stockpile salary cap money for 2003, when the team could have as much money as any team in the NFL when it comes to cap room.

The Vikes are definitely going to have a new look this season, but, taking a cue from New England, it could be the fast track to success.

* The Vikings may be watching closer than most teams over plans by the NFL to deal with Houston's retractable roof stadium. The current plan is that the Vikings and Gophers may be looking at a retractable roof if a stadium deal gets approved and the NFL is breaking new ground with Houston. The current plan is similar to those with retractable roof stadiums in Major League Baseball, meaning if a roof is open when a game starts, it must remain open. If it is closed, it must remain closed. No official set of rules have been approved by the owners, but they will be coming soon.

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