There is a familiar theme that has emerged with new coach Mike Tice's negotiations with free agents -- either sign or don't let the door hit you in the butt as you leave.
He has openly dangled contracts to free agents saying the first to sign is the only one that will be signed. He threatened Byron Chamberlain with banishment if he got serious with Detroit. Now it's Derrick Alexander.
The Vikes' interest in Alexander has been one of the worst-kept secrets in the NFL this off-season. Even people with no concept of the Vikings have assumed it's almost a done deal that Alexander will wear purple in September. However, as VU reported earlier and often, Tice isn't one to take a "no" or a "maybe" lightly.
Several national and local reports have echoed what VU said earlier this week -- that Tice wants a wide receiver signed by the start of the team's only remaining two-a-day minicamp before the team's training camp opens at the end of July. But, unlike the sheep that are buying into the latest twist, VU isn't jumping on that bandwagon just yet.
On Wednesday, Tice floated out the name of Antonio Freeman as a second option for the Vikes unless Alexander agrees to a deal -- insinuating that he is growing tired of Alexander's visits to places like New England and Tampa Bay.
While there may be interest in Freeman, until Wednesday not only was Freeman seen as an option after Alexander and Keenan McCardell, some sources close to the situation said that former Redskin bad boy Michael Westbrook would be considered before Freeman, whose career went in the tank about the same time he was paid Jerry Rice money.
Tice is brutally honest, so you may want to take him at his word that Freeman is an option. But, from our experience and what we've been told in recent days, Freeman is far from a No. 1 option and not really a No. 2 option. If the Vikes should sign Freeman, expect to see D'Wayne Bates starting and, if he goes down, Cedric James or Sean Dawkins could step in. Freeman is hatched and being used as a ploy. If the Vikings and Tice are serious, they haven't watched film on Freeman the last two years.
Here's hoping this is just Tice being Tice in trying to get Alexander off the idea of driving up his price. He's established a track record of forcing the issue and this looks like just another example of that intensity coming to the surface.
* One red herring being thrown out in the defense of signing Freeman is that WR coach Charlie Baggett coached him in Green Bay. But, as others would say, that was then and this is now.
* Hennepin County District Court Judge Gary Larson threw out three of the 10 counts brought in the wrongful death suit brought by Kelci Stringer in the death of Korey Stringer last year. While the issues aren't pertinent to the crux of the suit, the judge dismissed charges that the Vikings failed to disclose private facts related to his death, that the organization had a negligent implication of emotional distress on the family and, most importantly, that the team intentional put Stringer in a position to cause his death. When the case was first brought, VU reported that the intended purpose of causing death was an absurd legal foundation for a case and the dismissal of that charge affirmed that contention. However, several key elements to the case still remain and there is no indication yet that the suit will be thrown out in its entirety.
* Keenan McCardell followed Alexander into Tampa Wednesday and VU sources close to both the Chiefs and the Bucs think there could be a bidding war between both teams and the possibility of a third team -- one side thinks the Vikes might jump in if nothing happens with Alexander -- could join the fray in the next day or two.
* Former Vikings OL Calvin Collins signed on with Houston Wednesday.
* The Packers gave LB Hardy Nickerson a physical Wednesday and may be prepared to offer him a contract. The Vikings may not even get involved with Nickerson if he maintains that he must play middle linebacker. Tice has promised that job to Henri Crockett and is too early in his tenure to cut a player's legs out from under him this soon in his head coaching career.
* From the "What the...?" Department comes this: ESPN is playing an interesting little game with Randy Moss. Moss is scheduled to be the celebrity commentator on the network's Sunday night feature "Plays of the Week," which might give the impression that ESPN is sucking up to Moss. Yet, the network continues to promo a show called "Unscripted" in which the next guest -- former NFL egomaniac Deacon Jones -- won't mince words about Moss' "I play when I want to play" remarks. Sit back, enjoy and see how this car wreck plays itself out. Can Merrill Hoge be far behind?
Tice Tough Talk Continues
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