Signings Continue at Frenetic Pace

The Vikings have remained active in free agency with a new wave of signings that has included five players in the last week, highlighted by the signings of Michael Boulware and Kenderick Allen yesterday.

The Vikings continue to be a player in the second wave of free agency and, while names like Michael Boulware and DT Kenderick Allen don't exactly have fans saying, "with those guys on the team, we're a lock for the Super Bowl," they are positive signs that the Vikings aren't going to wait until the draft to fill needs and then scramble afterward.

The safety position was especially questioned last year. The Vikings knew they had Darren Sharper, but the late signings of Mike Doss, Dwight Smith and Tank Williams gave them depth and veteran experience, but both Doss and Williams were known injury risks that didn't disappoint those who thought they would get injured again. Tank is now with the Patriots after signing a one-year deal, Smith is with the Lions and Doss is still available on the open market.

The Vikings' plan this offseason has been to not only fill holes, but to do it with younger players. The team got younger at safety and fullback and has added some younger depth to its line position and special teams.

A year ago, the Vikings were merely a blip on the radar in the pre-draft free-agent period. Their only signings of note during the early period were Visanthe Shiancoe, Bobby Wade and Vinny Ciurciu. This year's attention to the free agent market can't be underestimated. The Vikings see a window to make a run and are not only addressing need, but doing it with players that have their best football in front of them, not in the rearview mirror.

* Last year with the Texans, the organization wanted to try Boulware as a linebacker after trading defensive lineman Jason Babin for him. The Vikings intend to use him in his more familiar safety spot.
* The Vikings have signed five players in the last week – Boulware, Allen, Ellis Wyms, Dallas Sartz and Robert Ferguson.
* Some have speculated that the Texans' interest in QB Quinn Gray could be a sign that the team will trade Sage Rosenfels to the Vikings. A more likely scenario is that the team is concerned about the progress being made by Matt Schaub after surgery on his non-throwing shoulder that won't have him available for the start of the team's conditioning program, which gets underway March 31.
* In what we can only assume is a laugh-inducing typo, Sporting News has released its 2008 draft guide, which does team-by-team needs assessments and depth charts. Clearly the magazine went to print before the start of free agency, because it still lists Tony Richardson as the Vikings fullback, Dwight Smith as a starting safety and has none of the early signees penned into their spots on the roster. But one curious aspect of the Vikings depth chart is the listing of players with one of four designations – elite, solid, adequate and fringe. Among the elite players listed was QB Tarvaris Jackson. To put that in perspective, the only other quarterbacks that their analysts viewed as elite were Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and, just as inexplicably, Jeff Garcia. With guys like Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger listed as solid instead of elite, we are puzzled at Jackson's early designation.

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