Vikings Close In On Off-Season Re-Tooling

The Minnesota Vikings guarantee a new look heading into the 2002 season.

Heading into the off-season, the Minnesota Vikings wanted to get younger, quicker and more physical.

Looking at the moves the team has made in the past six months, they are well on their way to creating a fresh, exciting team, as soon as the 2002 season. Numerous free agent acquisitions could pave the way to immediate success.

Letting veterans such as Robert Griffith, Kailee Wong, Orlando Thomas, Cris Carter and Ed McDaniel leave the organization, the Vikings were perceived as making a critical mistake. Veteran leadership and quality playmakers are hard to come by in today's NFL.

What the Vikings did was attack free agency much in the way that a head coach digs into a player that may lack motivation — he challenges players and is a no nonsense individual.

Now the perception of the Vikings has gone from a team that appeared to be on its downside to that of a team that is intriguing and could challenge for a playoff spot in 2002, according to a league source.

"What Minnesota has done is let players that are getting up in age that have had some injury or production issues leave the organization," the source said. "They have gotten significantly younger and stronger due to a strong draft and free agents signing period."

"Minnesota will make some noise in 2002 and really should be in the playoff hunt."

Agent-Talk: The word that is out in the agent and player world is that the Vikings will sign defensive tackle Jim Flanigan within the next two weeks, no later than training camp. But that word turned bad on Thursday, as the Vikings found out Flanigan, a former Packer and Bear, signed with San Francisco.

Tight-end O.J. Santiago, who has been hanging out at the Minnesota training facility of late, is close to agreeing to terms with the team for the NFL minimum contract.

Contract talks with representatives for the Vikings' first-round selection, offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie are expected to heat up in the next two to three weeks. Neither party expects a problem with getting McKinnie signed and in training camp on time.

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