Childress Debunks Rumors, Expands on Market

There are several prevailing theories about the Vikings' interests in free agency, but head coach Brad Childress stated his position on the team's needs and where he differs from the public perception.

As free agency quickly approaches its 11 p.m. Central kickoff on Thursday night, Vikings coach Brad Childress took time last week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to dispel a few common perceptions about where the team could be heading in free agency.

While many fans want to attach Philadelphia quarterback Jeff Garcia as a Vikings interest or a trade for Houston quarterback David Carr, Childress said he couldn't talk specifically about those players. However, he also said believed the team didn't need to add another veteran quarterback.

While emphasizing that he hasn't named a starting quarterback yet, he sees Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger competing for the job, and Childress views Bollinger as the veteran that some people want the Vikings to trade for.

"I look at it a little differently than you guys do in terms of Brooks Bollinger. Brooks has a few years under his belt," Childress said. "I know he's not a free agent; he's a guy that we traded for. He has some experience in this league and in this system. He's started games in this league in a Jets system that was a tough situation to go into. … I've got two guys that I'm happy with right now and the possibility of another guy in the mix draft-wise."

In limited playing time last year, Bollinger completed 13 of 18 passes (a team-best 72.2 percent) for 146 yards, throwing no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked six times.

Meanwhile, Jackson completed 47 of 81 passes (58 percent) for 475 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.

On Wednesday, the team released 15-year veteran Brad Johnson, who completed 270 of 439 passes (61.5 percent) for 2,750 yards, nine touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

The Vikings finished evaluating all the positions on the free agent market a couple weeks ago, and wide receiver is one of the team's biggest needs. There are about three free agents currently on the market who might fit the team's scheme. Unrestricted free agents Kevin Curtis (St. Louis), Drew Bennett (Tennessee) and Donte Stallworth (Philadelphia) are all possibilities for the Vikings.

"There are different flavors with free agents, with Kevin Curtis probably being at the top of that stack on down to situational players," Childress said. "I'm not going to tell you that that's a deep, deep, deep, deep group."

The Seahawks' D.J. Hackett is a restricted free agent who would seem to fit the Vikings offense well, having played in Seattle's West Coast offense for the first three years of his career. The Seahawks are expected to tender him at level that would require a first- or second-round draft pick as compensation from any team that signs him to an offer sheet that the Seahawks decline to match.

The Vikings might also be able to put another poison pill in an offer sheet that Seattle would be unable to match, as Minnesota did in its offer to guard Steve Hutchinson last year (and Seattle countered with in an offer to wide receiver Nate Burleson).

Asked at the Combine about the possibility of a lot of poison pills being thrown around in this year's free agency, Childress said, "I doubt it. Will there be any? There may be some, but I don't know what other people's strategies are."

So why not throw a lot of poison pills around in offers to restricted free agents?

"Probably because of the fears it caused last year regarding that," he said.

With the Seahawks reportedly looking to trade starting wide receiver Darrell Jackson and having Deion Branch, Burleson and Hackett (along with unrestricted free agent Bobby Engram), they have options at the position and could afford to part with one of their top wideouts.

Tight end is another position of need for the Vikings, and the team is expected to make a push for New England's Daniel Graham, but if they don't sign him, the talent drops off significantly at that position.

Defensively, the Vikings could use a defensive end to add to the roster, but Patrick Kerney's (Atlanta) asking price may be too steep, and Kansas City is reportedly trying to retain Jared Allen. Another possibility at that position is Tampa Bay's Dewayne White.

Free agency kicks off at 11 p.m. Central Thursday night. Overall, the Vikings now appear willing to spend, but the market is weak.

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