Johnson Out, Who's In?

A familiar scene during his career with the Houston Texans, David Carr spent much of his early career being sacked. But the Texans seem willing to part with Carr for much less than they paid for him and the Vikings and Browns have been rumored to have been in talks for a deal.

With the release of Brad Johnson Wednesday, the Vikings are clearly in the market to add a third quarterback to go along with Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger. Fans may remember that at his final press conference of the season, Brad Childress said quarterback would likely be the only position that the team wouldn't target in free agency or early in the draft. That plan may have changed.

Word out of Houston is that the Texans are souring on the idea of trading for Jake Plummer – a deal that seemed all but assured as recently as last week. However, it would seem the Broncos are asking too steep a price for the Texans to meet, so their plan could turn to rookie Brady Quinn. VU has been told that the rumors around the Texans facility is that the team has had discussions with the Vikings and the Browns, the two teams most likely to have the ability to take Quinn in front of the Texans. Nothing has happened as of yet, because the offers being made by both teams are considered "low-ball" offers – an exchange of first-round picks and a mid- to late-Day 2 pick with Carr thrown in.

Such deals can often be a slippery slope because there's no way of guaranteeing that, if a deal was to be made now, that some other team might not jump in and grab Quinn in front of the Texans. If such a deal is to be struck, it will likely have to wait until draft day itself for just that reason, which would take the Vikings, the Texans and the Browns out of the free agent quarterback market. Unless the Texans are simply willing to part with Carr at any cost, don't expect to see this rumor bear fruit – at least not until much closer to draft day or a change of heart with the Broncos and Texans about getting a deal for Plummer completed.

* By the time free agency begins, the Vikings salary cap space could jump from $12.8 million to almost $30 million with incentive-based pay being rolled back in the form of cap space and the potential of players like Fred Smoot and Jermaine Wiggins being released.
* The Vikings tendered $850,000 offers to three of their restricted free agents – tight end Richard Owens, offensive lineman Anthony Herrera and defensive lineman Spencer Johnson.
* The Vikings allocated five players to NFL Europa Wednesday – safety Andre Maddox, CB Jerron Wishom, offensive lineman Jimmy Martin, wide receiver Justin Surrency and defensive tackle Alex Guerrero.
* Former Vikings training camp casualty – offensive lineman Alan Reuber – was allocated to NFL Europa by the Bengals.
* The Falcons and Chargers both put the highest possible tender offers on restricted free agents Matt Schaub and Michael Turner. To pry them away, it would cost a team a first- and third-round pick this season. Turner's tender will result in him being paid $2.35 million to be insurance for LaDainian Tomlinson, who will likely be on the cover of this year's Madden game from EA Sports – which we all know has a long and substantial curse to the players who have been on the cover.
* Sick of Lovie Smith? Get used to it. Smith signed a four-year contract extension worth $5.5 million a year Wednesday that will pay him through the 2011 season.
* In the first 48 games of his professional career, Randy Moss had a record of 36-12. Over the next 54 games of his career, his teams had a record of 25-29. Over the last 42 games he has played, his teams have a record of 10-32.
* In other Moss-related news, the Packers have balked at giving up their first-round pick in the 2007 draft for Moss, but word is that they are willing to trade Aaron Rodgers – their first-round pick in 2005. If that would be the case, look to see Big Al jump on Calvin Johnson with the first overall pick in April's draft instead of JaMarcus Russell. That possibility would throw just about everyone's mock draft into a tizzy.
* With free agency just hours away, several teams made some significant veteran cuts Wednesday. The Ravens released their all-time leading rusher Jamal Lewis, although the team expects to re-sign him. Other cuts included Bengals linebacker Brian Simmons, Lions guard Ross Verba, Texans wide receiver Eric Moulds, defensive tackle Seth Payne and offensive tackle Zach Wiegert, Saints tight end Ernie Conwell, Jets running back Derrick Blaylock and defensive end Bobby Hamilton, Rams linebacker Dexter Coakley and guard Adam Timmerman and Redskins tight end Christian Fauria.

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