It’s tough to suggest that a 6-10 team might have too much depth at any position, but that might be the case with the Vikings.
There are three positions that seem to currently enjoy a luxury of depth and talent – running back, defensive end and safety. With that in mind, might the Vikings be shopping some of their in-house talent?
Perhaps the most often rumored player potentially on the block is No. 3 running back and punt return specialist Mewelde Moore. Two other players who piqued curiosity due to his unexplained absence at practice yesterday would be defensive end Darrion Scott and safety Tank Williams.
The surest and safest route to go with both Moore and Scott would be to re-sign both of them to a long-term contract extension and lock up a pair of solid role players. However, the economics of the game may not allow for that.
Both Moore and Scott are fourth-year players who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents following the 2007 season. While both are solid players, neither would likely merit a franchise tag to retain. Therefore, the likelihood of losing both of them to another team after the season is high.
Moore might not be a back you want to feature, but for many teams he could easily fill the role as a solid No. 2 back. Whenever healthy and asked to carry the load in a game he has always been very productive.
During his career with the Vikings, when he’s gotten 15 or more carries he has been very productive. In those games he’s rushed 20-92 (at Houston in 2004), 15-109 (at New Orleans in 2004), 20-138 (vs. Tennessee in 2004), 23-101 (vs. New Orleans in 2005), 22-122 (at Green Bay in 2005) and 21-67 (vs. Cleveland in 2005). That’s more than 100 yards rushing in 4 of 6 of those instances, and he’s averaged 5.2 yards per carry. He also caught 29 passes in those games.
His effectiveness as a third-down back, coupled with his reliability as a punt returner also offer a great deal of value for any team looking for better depth behind their featured runner.
Plus, the Vikings might also have a couple other punt return prospects in second-year cornerback Charles Gordon and wide receiver Bobby Wade to name two. At running back, there is also still a proven veteran in Artose Pinner, another 100-yard rusher when given enough carries.
At left end, the Vikings have basically declared Kenechi Udeze the starter ahead of Scott. While they contend that Scott will still be a key player in the overall defensive line rotation, he’s capable of being a starter, especially for a team looking for a strong base end in a 4-3, or even a team that plays a two-gap scheme with the defensive ends.
In fact, to some degree, Scott isn’t an ideal fit as an edge rusher in the team’s defensive scheme. He was designed for the Ted Cottrell-style defense more than the current scheme run by the Vikings.
But players with Scott’s ability to hold up against the run, occupy blockers at the point of attack, yet still get some push on the pass rush are an ideal fit for most two-gap schemes. Scott could definitely have value to a team still needing to fill a hole at that anchor end position.
Behind Scott for the Vikings would be second-year DE Jayme Mitchell, a promising prospect with perhaps a little better long-term pass-rush potential but not strictly an undersized in-betweener at 6-6, 285 pounds.
Scott was not happy when the Vikings did not tender him at a higher level as a restricted free agent this past offseason, and he settled for the low-end one-year tender. Given the fact that he’s a starting-caliber defensive end, he will definitely cash in after this season.
So if the Vikings are going to get long-term return for either Moore or Scott, the next week or so might be their best opportunity.
At safety, the trio of Darren Sharper, Dwight Smith and Mike Doss would appear set and likely untouchable. But if either Tank Williams or Greg Blue would have value, the Vikings could consider dealing them if they felt they were getting something of value in return. If not, one or both of them might be released.
It’s all pure speculation, but if trades are going to happen, the next week represents a typical window of opportunity.
Lowber not happy
First-year receiver was reportedly not happy about being released by the Vikings and is determined to catch on with another team and prove the Vikings wrong, which is too bad.
Lowber’s best chance to ultimately succeed in the NFL would be to re-sign with the Vikings and spend a season on their practice squad continuing to learn the nuances of the game of football. In particular, running pass routes, picking up hot routes against the blitz and simply improving his overall technique and consistency.
If he goes somewhere else, he just starts over with a different offense and terminology. From the beginning, he was a guy who was destined for the practice squad.
Maybe reality will sink in for Lowber. Or maybe someone else will take another look. Or maybe he will indeed prove the Vikings “wrong.”
Three more roster cuts due today
The Vikings still have to make three more roster deletions by 3:00 PM today. Rosters must be cut to 75 to the regular-season limit of 53 by Saturday afternoon. The Vikings have 79 players, but guard Seppo Evwaraye has an exemption because he's part of the NFL's International Development practice squad program.
Rams offered Fitzpatrick?
According to ProFootballTalk.com, it's believed that the Rams offered No. 3 quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Vikings, before they acquired Holcomb. If Fitzpatrick had gone to the Vikings, we might have had a Harvard center (Matt Birk) snapping the ball to a Harvard quarterback (Fitzpatrick); surely a first in the NFL.
Culpepper looking good with Raiders
All indications out of Oakland are that former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper has looked good, especially in their most recent preseason game against the Rams last Friday.
Culpepper started for the Raiders and was a modest 4-for-8 passing for 47 yards, 1 touchdown, no interceptions and a quarterback passer rating of 107.8. He also rushed 3 times for 17 yards, including a 10-yard scamper.
But perhaps most impressive was that he led his team to a 10-0 lead before handing it over to Josh McCown.
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