Lurtsema's Reaction: The Free Agents

Former Viking Bob Lurtsema gives his opinion on the Vikings' own free agents – which of them are more important to sign and which ones should be allowed to test the market. We get his take on those scheduled to be free agents on Friday.

VU: Let me just run down the free agents and get your thoughts on them. At safety, does Mike Doss hold much value or is he pretty much a throwaway guy at this point.

BL: You can't get a read on Doss. Bud Grant always wanted guys that were healthy. I was out to dinner with Grady Alderman and Wally Hilgenberg the other day and we were talking about the durability factor – how long everybody was here. You've got to be able to be counted on week after week and they were kind of kidding. Wally said you don't want anybody to take your position so you don't want anybody better out there to show how good he is. With Doss, I look at it and I don't see him bringing it every week. I'm a little old-school, but if a guy doesn't bring it every week, then I really lose respect for him as a total package. With Doss, I haven't got the feel that he brings it every week. I'd much rather have a guy who's busting his nuts on every play than somebody that's giving 60 percent. You're always going to be ahead with 100 percent with less ability.

VU: What about safety Tank Williams then?

BL: When Tank played, I liked him. He does come to play. If you compare him to Doss, there is no comparison – Tank is going to stand out. But it's the same thing with Williams and him missing action.

VU: Heath Farwell?

BL: Farwell was a Pro Bowl alternate for special teams. He's got a rare talent. I watch him and it's so smooth the way he beats blockers, just the way he has deceptive speed or he offsets them with that speed to gets them leaning one way and he'll go the other. He's got an unbelievable touch for special-teams work. Guys like Chris Walsh and him, they don't come around that much. I think he led the National Football League in the preseason with tackles; the guy can fill in at linebacker. Don't lose a person like that because he just made too many plays last year on special teams. You've got to sign him.

VU: Dontarrious Thomas?

BL: I really felt sorry for Dontarrious last year. He's a very mild-mannered, really nice kid who doesn't complain at all. He'll just do what you tell him to do. I think that if he doesn't get an opportunity to play here, I think he's one person that can play for a lot of different teams. Knowing the way he is as an individual, I would personally like to see him go to another club. Not that I want him to, but I would like to see him go to another club for his own well-being. Nice kid.

VU: What about Spencer Johnson at defensive tackle?

BL: Spencer Johnson is almost a Benchwarmer Bob. He does the job when he gets in there, but he's playing behind two Pro Bowlers. They always say you're only as strong as your bench and it's nice to have Spencer backing up those two (Kevin Williams and Pat Williams). When he comes in there, he does the job. I would hate to lose him. You need defensive linemen and I think to lose a defensive lineman at this time would set them back a notch. I would love to have Spencer sign again.

VU: Darrion Scott? And how much does Kenechi's Udeze's condition play into that?

BL: You've got to have Scott now because Spencer doesn't play much defensive end. You've got Scott, who can play the defensive end position, and I hope Erasmus James is healthy enough to come back. You have no choice. You know what he can do, he knows the system and he had a couple of really, really good games coming off the bench last year. He would be one that I'd definitely want to hold onto because he plays the run on the strong side of the defensive line. Those two guys on the defensive line I want back.

VU: Offensively, Mewelde Moore?

BL: Mewelde does everything right, but he just doesn't move up the ladder at all. I think he could run every play for 30 yards and I don't think he'd get much playing time. Now with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, as young as they are and as good of a job as they do, I think that he'd be more valuable to other teams. He's really consistent when he gets in there, his average and everything he does. He's a mild-mannered guy – doesn't say anything but just does his job. I'd rather cover defensive line with the extra money than bring Mewelde back.

VU: Tony Richardson at fullback?

BL: Tony is long in the tooth. If you can get him at the right price, you keep him all day long. There are certain athletes that you want in the locker room and their attitude is very contagious in a positive way. The price would have to be right. With Jeff Dugan, you're in pretty good shape at that position. But to spend a lot of money at that position, Richardson is on the edge. You've got to buy him right. I'm thinking of the overall picture of free agency and signing the other players, not that Tony Richardson is not a tremendous contributor.

VU: The last one, Robert Ferguson at wide receiver?

BL: Ferguson has an old-school attitude and I like him when I talk to him. He works hard. I'd bring him back and give him a training camp with the quarterback. Let him get on the same page, because he came in late. With Tarvaris still learning everything … I would bring Ferguson back and that shores up your receiver corps. We do have a good receiver corps, people can say what they want.

Bob Lurtsema was a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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