Vikings Being Patient in Search for DE

Once again the bridesmaid as Jevon Kearse signed with the Tennessee Titans with a trip to Minnesota lined up. It was déjà vu as the Vikings missed out on Justin Smith (49ers) and Antwan Odom (Bengals) in similar fashion. But maybe that's okay.

Defensive end Jevon Kearse was scheduled to visit with the Vikings on Thursday, but it was clear once he made it to Tennessee that he preferred to return “home” to the team with whom his pro career had begun, the Titans.

“This is my No. 1 pick, my first choice,” Kearse had told reporters in Tennessee.  “When I heard the Titans were interested, I was like, ‘Let's make something happen.’  Coming back, it’s been sort of like a homecoming. ... Now, we'll see what happens. It looks really good.”

The Titans closed the deal later in the day with a two-year, $6 million deal, with a reported $1.3 million signing bonus.  He will earn a total of $3 million in the first year.

Cutting to the chase, those aren’t numbers that the Vikings could not have easily surpassed if they truly wanted him.

At best, they were interested in Kearse at a low-risk, high-reward contract level.Jevon Kearse’s Adam Caplan hit the nail on the head in his recent web chat with Vikings fans.

“He got benched last year and is really only a backup,” Caplan said.

When asked how much explosiveness he had left, Caplan said:  “He had none last year.”

The reality is that he lost playing time to Juqua Thomas, hardly a household name as a defensive end.

For those disappointed once again by Minnesota’s failure to land Kearse, Caplan pegged it”  “Wouldn't be a loss, though, if he doesn't sign with Minnesota.  [The] Eagles told you what they thought of him by releasing him.”

Head coach Brad Childress knew and liked Kearse personally.  He knows Eagles coach Andy Reid very well.  Childress knew exactly what Kearse may or may not have had left.

The Vikings might have overpaid to land wide receiver Bernard Berrian and safety Madieu Williams, because they really needed them and both are young players who should be entering the prime of their pro career.

That was not entirely the case with Justin Smith, who signed with the 49ers.  Smith is a high-motor player, but had just two sacks last season.  Quite frankly, the guys they have are capable of that.  They wanted him, but not at the price the ‘Niners were willing to pay.

Ditto for Odom, who’s a talented athlete with outstanding pass-rush potential.  But that’s the key word – potential.  His eight-sack season a year ago is his best effort, despite playing with a strong supporting cast.  Odom has big-time talent, but he’s been an underachiever for the most part going all the way back to his college days at Alabama.

Maybe defensive line coach Karl Dunbar could have lit a fire under him, but it should be noted that the Titans had more than enough cap space themselves to keep him, too.

The latest defensive end prospect the Vikings are showing interest in is journeyman Corey Smith, who has played with Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Detroit during his six-year career.

Smith (6-2 ¼, 253) is an undersized, overachiever with some pass-rush skills, but he’s not an every-down starter.  For the right price, he’d bring some experience to the mix, however.

The Vikings don’t want to go into the draft being influenced by need when they make their picks, but the fact is there are going to be some legitimate DE prospects when they take their turn at No. 17.

They could also target a player they covet in the draft and move up to get him.  They could also make a trade before, or after, the draft to shore up the position.

Many believe that Bill Parcells is blowing smoke in denying that veteran Jason Taylor is a candidate to be traded.

Taylor might be a bit long on the tooth at 33 years old, but he has shown no signs at all of slipping as he comes off an 11-sack season playing for a horrible Miami Dolphins team.  In fact, Taylor has averaged double-digit sack totals over the past eight years now.

Stay tuned…and stay patient.

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