Cursory Glance at Vikings' Offseason Topics

Free agency, the draft and recoveries from surgeries are some of the key hot-button topics for the offseason. While we'll cover them more in-depth as the weeks and months roll on, here is a capsule look those hot areas.

FREE AGENT UPDATE

  • RB Michael Bennett (almost certain to be playing elsewhere next season)

  • CB Ralph Brown (future uncertain with new defensive coach staff coming in)

  • SS Corey Chavous (unhappy with his contract, he is expected to leave)

  • LB Sam Cowart (if Vikings are going to go to a Cover-2 scheme, veteran likely won't be this team's middle linebacker in 2006)

  • K Paul Edinger (struggled from 30 to 39 yards, but should return unless new staff has someone else in mind)

  • G Toniu Fonoti (has potential but there are questions about whether he can get his weight under control)

  • C Melvin Fowler (desire to start could mean he'll go elsewhere)

  • QB Shaun Hill (third-stringer is almost certainly gone)

  • DE Lance Johnstone (pass-rush specialist might be considered a starter elsewhere)

  • LB Keith Newman (might not fit into Cover-2 defense)

  • S Willie Offord (injury ended his season early and certainly reduced his market value)

  • WR Koren Robinson (Vikings have the right to match any offer)

  • LB Raonall Smith (special-teams ace might sign elsewhere if it means more playing time)

  • CB Brian Williams (looking for assurances he will be a starter)

  • RB Moe Williams (expected to retire after finishing the season on injured reserve because of a knee injury)

  • C Cory Withrow (could return to a backup role with Matt Birk expected to start in 2006)

    FEELING THE DRAFT

    The Vikings will select 17th in the draft on April 29. Obvious areas of need are running back, offensive line and linebacker. New coach Brad Childress and a yet-to-be hired personnel director are expected to make the calls on this pick, so it's difficult to speculate which way they might go.

    With the Vikings playing a Tampa Bay-style Cover-2 defense in 2006, linebacker might move to the top of the list. Veteran middle linebacker Sam Cowart might not have the speed to play in that scheme and strongside linebacker Keith Newman also wouldn't be a great fit. Both those players are free agents and could leave.

    At his introductory news conference, Childress talked about the importance of both the offensive and defensive lines. He could look for help at both guard spots and also for an eventual replacement at center for Matt Birk.

    MEDICAL WATCH

  • Rookie P Chris Kluwe will undergo reconstructive surgery later this month to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right (punting) knee suffered Dec. 4 in Detroit. Kluwe, who missed only one game because of the injury, is confident he will be ready for training camp.

    As for players who finished the season on injured reserve:

  • QB Daunte Culpepper has been rehabilitating his surgically repaired right knee at his home in Orlando, Fla. Culpepper tore the anterior cruciate, medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in the knee on Oct. 30 against Carolina.

  • C Matt Birk, who underwent surgery to repair the torn labrum in his left hip in September, continues to rehab.

  • Rookie S Dustin Fox, who was placed on injured reserve during training camp because of a broken arm, is recovered and ready to go. If Corey Chavous leaves, Fox could benefit.

  • S Willie Offord (knee), CB Laroni Gallishaw (sprained right ankle), DE Kenechi Udeze (knee) and G Toniu Fonoti (groin) also are doing well, according to athletic trainer Chuck Barta. Udeze will begin having what Barta calls "impact-type activity," such as on-the-field running, at the end of this month. "The impact is going to be a big test for him and how he reacts to it," Barta said. Both Offord and Fonoti will become unrestricted free agents in March.


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