Vikings Front Office Studying Talent

The Vikings are working on evaluating their own players as the first step in their offseason evaluation mode, but the personnel chief believes they have "a very talented team."

Vikings players might be on hiatus until the offseason program begins in March, but the front office and coaching staff are kicking into high gear as they prepare for free agency and the draft.

Coming off a disappointing 6-10 finish in Brad Childress' first season as head coach, the Vikings have been holding personnel meetings this week evaluating the roster and what will be necessary to improve in 2007.

Rick Spielman, who was hired as the Vikings' vice president of player personnel in June, has been running the meetings and is confident the proper adjustments can be made to turn things around.

"A lot of people probably don't realize (this) because it didn't reflect in our record this year, but I honestly believe this is a very talented team," he said.

The key will be adding talent at need positions such as wide receiver and defensive end, where the Vikings have to get someone who can supply consistent pressure from the edge.

Minnesota is sitting with more than $23 million in salary-cap space so money should not be a big issue. However, this year's free-agent class does not shape up to be as strong as last year's in part because the cap will increase by about $7 million in 2007, enabling teams to retain players.

Last season, the Vikings made a big splash in free agency by signing guard Steve Hutchinson, running back Chester Taylor, kicker Ryan Longwell and linebacker Ben Leber early in the process.

"I don't know if there is going to be any guy out there that is like that," Spielman said when asked if there might be a Hutchinson-type signing this time. "You know, to me, you're never one player away from winning a Super Bowl. If you can build through bringing in some second-tier guys and adding more of those guys (you should win more games)."

Spielman and his staff also are focusing on getting help through the draft. This will be a must.

The Vikings will have the seventh-overall selection and many think the team should do whatever it takes to get Georgia Tech standout receiver Calvin Johnson. Johnson said this week that he will forego his final year of eligibility.

The decision by Johnson was good news for Spielman.

"I think once the juniors come out, and what juniors come into this draft, it will be a very good draft," he said. "I don't think just in the first round, but I think as you go through in all the rounds. I always look at things on the positive end. You're going to have the seventh pick all the way through. So you're going to get the best of the rest through each round. You're going to have to do your due diligence in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh rounds."


  • Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams was named to the Associated Press All-Pro first team. It was the second time in his career Williams received the honor. He was the second-leading vote-getter among defensive tackles behind San Diego's Jamal Williams.

  • Vikings left guard Steve Hutchinson was a second-team All-Pro selection, finishing behind Philadelphia's Shawn Edwards and Pittsburgh's Alan Faneca.

  • Free agent tight end Stephen Spach, who played in 13 games for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005, signed with the Vikings. Spach was released by the Eagles on Sept. 3.

  • Free agent receiver Justin Surrency (Northern Iowa) has been signed to a futures contract. Surrency worked out with the Vikings in October after being waived by the Seattle Seahawks.

  • Nose tackle Pat Williams is expected to be named to the NFC Pro Bowl team as the injury replacement for the Bears' Tommie Harris in the coming days.

  • Quarterback Brad Johnson remains a member of the Vikings, although it's believed the team and the veteran will part ways before free agency begins.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's become extremely close. It's like when you first go to a dance with your wife, and you're going through issues for the first time. Roster issues, things like that. You dance, and you're figuring out each other a little bit. But I would say, it's been outstanding. It's been one of the best I've been (in) as far as being close to a head coach and understand what he needs and what we need to get on this roster for our coaches to be successful in the systems they're trying to run." -- Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman on his relationship with coach Brad Childress.

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