Vikings Free Agency: What's Left?

The Vikings will be meeting with at least one free agent Monday, but there are other options left out there.

The Vikings are scheduled to meet with free-agent running back Maurice Hicks (San Francisco) on Monday morning.

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound back has played in all but two games over the last three years with the San Francisco 49ers, but his main asset to the Vikings – seemingly set in the backfield with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor – would be his kick return abilities.

In the last four seasons with the 49ers, Hicks has returned 185 kickoffs for a 22.9-yard average. The last two seasons he has averaged 23.8 yards on 63 returns (in 2007) and 25.1 yards on 57 returns (in 2006). His 1,428 return yards in 2006 set the 49ers franchise record for total yards on kickoff returns and then he bested that mark with 1,502 yards in 2007. The Vikings' franchise record is 1,345 yards by Buster Rhymes in 1985.

Hicks has also played on some special-teams coverage units in San Francisco.

As a running back, Hicks has been used sparingly, especially the last two seasons. He rushed 21 times for 117 yards in 2007 and 29 times for 82 yards in 2006. He got more action earlier in his 49ers career, carrying 59 times for 308 yards (5.2-yard average) in 2005 and a career-high 96 times for 362 yards (3.8) in 2004.

Hicks was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago Bears in 2002 after becoming North Carolina A&T's all-time leading rusher with 2,812 yards. However, he was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list in his rookie year. In 2003, he went to camp with the Bears but was waived before the season began. He joined the 49ers in 2003.

  • A league source told Scout.com's Ed Thompson last week that the Vikings were one of four teams that were showing an interest in free-agent linebacker Derrick Pope (the Falcons, Bucs and Chiefs were the other teams).

    However, when Pope was brought up, a Vikings team source told Viking Update that the team likely won't sign a veteran linebacker after tendering Heath Farwell a one-year, $1,475,000 offer that would require another team to surrender a second-round draft pick if they signed Farwell to an offer sheet that the Vikings declined to match. The Vikings expect Farwell to be a primary backup at linebacker. Drafting and developing a linebacker is a possibility, though, according to the source.

    The Vikings do have a connection to Pope. Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman drafted Pope in 2004 while serving as the Dolphins' general manager. So he's more than familiar with Pope's skills. The linebacker started nine games in 2007 and finished the season tied for fourth in tackles with 57. During his four years with the Dolphins, he's made 27 special teams tackles, putting him in a tie for first place in that category during that span.

    Pope isn't known to have a visit scheduled with the Vikings.

  • Defensive end Antwan Odom was scheduled to visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday and the Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday. A league source told Viking Update over the weekend to "look out for Antwan Odom." At this point, he isn't known to have a visit scheduled with the Vikings, but if he makes it out of Cincinnati without a signed contract the Vikings might have a window of opportunity to have him in for a visit before he gets on a plane for Arizona. The source on Saturday said he expected Odom to visit Minnesota, but he believed Odom was waiting for more details on the contract Justin Smith signed with the 49ers.

    Defensive end Bobby McCray signed a five-year contract with the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, but the Vikings weren't known to have an interest in him.

    Another possibility was former Titans end Travis LaBoy, but the Vikings never showed a serious interest in him and he could be going off the free-agent board. He visited with Cleveland earlier and was in Arizona Sunday night. He cancelled a visit scheduled with the New Orleans Saints.

  • The Vikings appeared to be poking around the quarterback position in free agency. Cleo Lemon and Josh McCown both signed contracts with other teams, but there is a possibility the Vikings will still try to trade for Houston Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels. They reportedly offered a third-round draft choice for Rosenfels (the Vikings have an extra third-rounder this year), but Houston was looking for a second-rounder. Buffalo's J.P. Losman is reportedly looking for a trade, but there haven't been any solid indications yet that the Vikings have pursued that option.

    Since releasing veteran Kelly Holcomb, the Vikings have only Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger as quarterbacks on their roster.


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