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It's not a Vikings story, but with the Saints signing DE Will Smith to a six-year, $70 million contract extension on Wednesday, it's worth noting how close the Vikings came to landing Smith in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.

Vikings missed Smith by just one pick

Until they landed Jared Allen this offseason, it seems the Vikings have been searching for a blue-chip pass-rusher at defensive end essentially since Chris Doleman's career in Viking purple ended back in 1993.

As history has played itself out, the Vikings actually came very close to landing a top-end player during the 2004 NFL Draft.  The Vikings sat at No. 19 overall in the first round that year, with defensive end perhaps their primary need at the time.  As things unfolded, they had Ohio State defensive end Will Smith atop their draft board.  Unfortunately, Smith was taken by the New Orleans Saints with the 18th pick, just ahead of the Vikings.

In the end, the Vikings traded down one spot and "settled" for Kenechi Udeze with the 20th overall selection.  Udeze has been a workmanlike starter (143 tackles, 11.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveres).  He is now battling a much-publicized fight with a form of leukemia.

Smith has been an impact player with the Saints - 265 career tackles, 33.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

Smith on Wednesday agreed to a six-year, $70 million contract extension with the Saints that makes him the third-highest paid defensive end (behind only Allen and the Colts' Dwight Freeney) in the NFL, according to his agent said, Joel Segal.

A league source said the contract includes $26 million in guaranteed money.

Smith was selected to the Pro Bowl following the 2006 season when he recorded 10.5 sacks.  Last season, with opposing defenses often double-teaming him, Smith had just seven.

"We are excited about getting this long-term contract done with Will," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said on the team's website.  "We view him as one of our core players and look forward to him having an impact on our defense for years to come."

It's all water under the bridge now, and everyone seems quite happy with the Jared Allen acquisition, but history might have played out differently if the Vikings had gotten their "target" back in 2004.


Running back Adrian Peterson is on the cover of ESPN's special Fantasy Football 2008 magazine.  There's a video clip you can access here.

Setting his sights high, Peterson wants to rush for 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2008.

Matt Birk's football camp at the University of St. Thomas runs June 15-19.

A house owned by Vikings safety Michael Boulware that is for sale for $1.2 million in the Seattle area was burglarized earlier this week by a prolific former Las Vegas stripper who posed as a real estate agent and then attempted to either live in or steal high-priced items.

Vikings safety Darren Sharper is among a group of NFL players who have been invited by NFL Films to a four-day session to evaluate their potential in television.

Wide receiver Bernard Berrian is among the pro athletes and Hollywood stars participating in the the sixth annual Maddbacker Celebrity Basketball Game Friday at Sacramento's Arco Arena.

WR Todd Lowber, the former Ramapo track star who went to camp with the Vikings a year ago, is getting mixed reviews in camp with the Giants.

Kyle Cook, who went to training camp with the Vikings last season, "has had a tremendous spring" with Cincinnati according to Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander.  "He's sharp and he's got the poise and leadership you're looking for at center.  [He's] an interesting guy, mature beyond his years.  That's going to be a very healthy training camp competition."

Former Vikings running back Ciatrick Fason, a fourth-round pick by the team in 2005, was not signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars after trying out this weekend.

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