Vikings Free Agency Notes

While the Vikings signed two more starters this week, there are plenty of other signings and visits that have a Vikings slant to them, including a reported visit to Winter Park today.

  • In a bit of a surprising move, the Vikings are visiting with free agent quarterback Mike McMahon on Wednesday, the team confirmed this morning. McMahon was recently released by the Philadelphia Eagles. He is also scheduled to visit the Broncos on Thursday.
  • Former Tampa Bay quarterback Brian Griese signed a five-year deal with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday. The Bears aren't expected to have Griese compete for the starting job, preferring to have Rex Grossman maintain that, but they would like Griese and Kyle Orton to compete for the No. 2 job.

    Griese was rumored to be an interest of the Vikings as a backup to Brad Johnson, but those mentions might have been more agent-speak than serious consideration from the team. Indications were that the Vikings were concerned with Griese's injury history and never did schedule a visit with him.

  • Bet you never considered that the Vikings may have gotten good value by signing All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson to a seven-year, $49 million contract. "Value" isn't typically a term associated with making a player the highest paid at his position.

    But consider that on the evening Seattle declined to match Hutchinson's offer from the Vikings, the Seahawks were busy signing linebacker Julian Peterson to a seven-year, $54 million deal with approximately $18.5 million in guaranteed money, including $10 million in 2006.

    Hutchinson got $16 million in guaranteed money with a 2006 cap hit of $13 million.

    While Peterson used to be one of the best outside linebackers in the league, he hasn't been the same since suffering a torn Achilles in Week 5 of the 2004 season. Hutchinson, meanwhile, has never missed a game.

  • Surprisingly, the Vikings are said to be keeping in contact with free agent guard Stephen Neal, even after the Hutchinson signing. Neal is scheduled to take a free agent visit to the Houston Texans and has already completed visits with the Vikings and Bills.

  • Middle linebacker Sam Cowart is visiting with the Houston Texans this week. The Vikings didn't attempt to re-sign Cowart, as they are expected to have a competition between Napoleon Harris, Dontarrious Thomas and Rod Davis at middle linebacker. The Texans are switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme and are in need of a middle linebacker. Cowart has also played with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

  • Vikings free agent kicker Paul Edinger visited with the New England Patriots, who lost clutch kicker Adam Vinatieri to the Indianapolis Colts. The Vikings replaced Edinger with former Green Bay Packers kicker Ryan Longwell on the first day of free agency.

  • Former Vikings center Melvin Fowler signed Tuesday with the Buffalo Bills. The Vikings didn't have an interest in bringing back Fowler, who said at the end of the 2005 season that he wanted a chance to start. With Pro Bowl center Matt Birk returning from injury, Fowler wasn't likely to get that chance in Minnesota in 2006. The Vikings signed guard-center Jason Whittle as insurance against Birk's two-year string of surgeries.
    Fowler started nine games with the Vikings last year and is expected to compete with Trey Teague for the starting job in Buffalo.

  • The Houston Texans have canceled a visit with Vikings wide receiver Nate Burleson, who, surprisingly, still doesn't have an offer sheet signed with Seattle. The Vikings tendered Burleson to a $712,000 offer that would require a third-round draft pick as compensation if another team signs him to a better offer sheet and the Vikings decline to match.

  • As expected, former Vikings receiver Kelly Campbell signed with the Miami Dolphins, reuniting him quarterback Daunte Culpepper.

  • The agent for Philadelphia Eagles unrestricted free agent right tackle Jon Runyan told Tuesday evening that Runyan has arrived in the New York area and will meet with New York Jets officials on Wednesday. No other visits have been set up, agent Ben Dogra said. Despite pre-free agency speculation that Runyan would be an interest of the Vikings, they have not shown much interest in him.

  • Former Vikings running back Michael Bennett, who signed a two-year contract with the New Orleans Saints, is expected to compete for playing time.

    "We are working to create competition at every position," said Saints general manager Mickey Loomis. "Michael has experience and has been a solid, explosive player throughout his career. We will add him to the mix at running back, where we already have some depth, and the competition will bring the best out in everyone."

    Bennett rushed for 1,296 yards in 2002 with the Vikings, but hasn't come close to those numbers since. The Vikings had no interest in re-signing him.

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