Earlier this week when VU was trying to break down the final cuts, we said that the roster would be trimmed to 53 players, but that they may not be the same 53 players on the roster when the team opens the regular season Sunday vs. Chicago.
One name that we kept hearing at Winter Park was that of LB Greg Biekert, who asked for and was given his release by the Oakland Raiders Sunday.
VU has been told by a team source that Biekert could be signed as early as today by the Vikings. However, there is a snag that has come up. Biekert was released after losing his starting job in Oakland and refusing to take a pay cut from $2.3 million to $1 million. While the Vikings are offering him a starting job at middle linebacker and would reunite him with former coach Willie Shaw, the Detroit Lions are, from what a Lions source has told VU, willing to offer Biekert a contract in the same $2.3 million range he would have been paid by Oakland.
The release of Lemanski Hall Sunday, according to one team source, was a precursor to getting Biekert in with the Vikings. If signed, he would move to middle linebacker (he knows the terminology of Shaw's defense, so it wouldn't be much of an adjustment) and Henri Crockett would move to weakside linebacker -- considered his more natural position.
At question now is whether Biekert wants a chance to reclaim his career at age 33 and have a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl in 2003 or take the money and play for the woeful Lions -- who won't see the playoffs unless they buy tickets and pay for plane fare.
Don't be surprised if the Vikings announce the signing of Biekert as early as today -- conditional on his willingness to put his football future ahead of his financial short-term future.
* Technically, the Vikings have 54 players on their roster. Holdout OT Bryant McKinnie is on the roster, but has been placed on the reserve-unsigned list. The roster breakdown had few surprises, except perhaps that the team is carrying just five running backs. But, in a one-back, two-tight end system, that's not unusual. The breakdown is as follows: QB (3), RB (5), WR (7, including kick returner Nick Davis), TE (4), OL (10), DL (8), LB (6), DB (8), special teams (3).
* Don't be surprised if the Vikings add two or three more players before the regular season starts. Mike Tice was at his Winter Park office last night scouring the waiver wire and the current list of 10 offensive linemen will likely be pared to eight by the time the team travels to Chicago.
* The Vikings placed a waiver claim on former Dallas kicker Tim Seder and VU has heard that if he looks good upon arrival in Minnesota, Doug Brien may be sent packing. The team is still considering bringing back Gary Anderson, but to do so, the team would also have to sign a kickoff specialist and there is little chance of both happening at this point.
* One player the Vikings were hoping to see on the waiver wire was kicker Travis Dorsch. Tice told VU he had intended to take Dorsch in April's draft, but he went to Cincinnati in the fourth round. The Bengals opted to keep two kickers -- Dorsch and incumbent Neil Rackers.
* It was a tough day for former Vikings who got their pink slips. They included RBs Terry Allen (New Orleans), Obafemi Ayanbadejo (Miami) and Travis Prentice (Houston), DT Shawn Worthen (Houston) and CB Keith Thibodeaux (Green Bay).
* Some big-name players didn't make the final cuts, including RBs Skip Hicks (Tennessee), Richard Huntley (Buffalo) and Rod "He Hate Me" of XFL quasi-fame Smart (Philadelphia), guards Leon Searcy (Miami) and Tre Johnson (Cleveland), WR Darnay Scott (Jacksonville), TEs Rickey Dudley (Cleveland) and Desmond Clark (an injury release by Denver), DT Joe Salave'a (Tennessee), safety Chad Cota and cornerback Terry Fair (Detroit) -- who the Vikings may have an interest in.
* Former Viking Fernando Smith was placed on injured reserve by Carolina Sunday. In Friday's game vs. Cleveland, Smith suffered through a scary moment when he lost feeling in his extremities after making a tackle. He was wheeled off the field, but X-rays proved negative and he regained use of his arms and legs. However, the Panthers placed him on I.R., ending his 2002 season.
* VU has been told that the Vikings and the agents for McKinnie will continue talks this week, but that the agents may have more leverage now than they did a week ago. With Kansas City giving Ryan Sims a $9.8 million signing bonus, it's expected that the Vikings may have to up their "final" offer to McKinnie, which included a signing bonus of $8.1 million, by about an additional $1 million.
* Lewis Kelly, who buried his wife Friday in Michigan, is expected to return to practice today.
* A couple of VU fans felt the scalding pain of blowing coffee out their noses Sunday while reading a column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In a blurb noting that Carl Eller was 11th on the all-time sacks list yet isn't in the Hall of Fame, it was mentioned that our own fearless leader Bob Lurtsema is 144th on the all-time sack list with 57 sacks.
* As per league rules, practice squads can begin being assembled at 3 p.m. today -- 24 hours after players were officially put on waivers when teams cut down to 53 players. One player sure to be on the practice squad if not claimed by another team is safety Kyries Hebert, who impressed coaches during minicamp but lost his position in training camp.
Vikes Hard at Work for Biekert
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