Market opens as Vikings still negotiating

The Vikings were still talking with some of their own free agents leading up to the opening of the signing period. After free agency opened, they were showing an interest in an offensive lineman and could be looking to a wide receiver or two in the near future. See what uncovered late Thursday night.

The Vikings could be introducing quarterback Sage Rosenfels as the newest player in purple on Friday, as their trade for him is expected to be announced, but they aren't expected to immediately fill the voids left as their top free agents hit the open market.

As the NFL clock turned to the official start of the 2009 league year with the opening of free agency at 11:01 p.m. Central on Thursday, the Vikings didn't have deals in place with center Matt Birk, tight end Jim Kleinsasser, safety Darren Sharper or linebacker Heath Farwell.

None of the Vikings unrestricted free agents were re-signed before free agency hit. Kleinsasser is still expected to continue talks with the team, according to indications from league and team sources this week. Talks continued late in Thursday night with Birk and his agent, as well.

Colts center Jeff Saturday signed a three-year deal with Indianapolis before free agency started, taking another possibility off the board, but the Vikings have expressed an interest in Ravens center Jason Brown, according to a league source. Brown is the top-rated center on's free-agent list, but he is scheduled to visit St. Louis on Saturday. Ironically, the Rams were considered a possibility for Birk as well, but the Vikings were continuing to talk with Birk's agent, Joe Linta, up until free agency hit in hopes of getting him re-signed and avoiding the need to look elsewhere.

As for Farwell, he is expected to generate interest from several other teams, but he didn't have any visits scheduled as free agency opened. Sharper isn't expected to return to Minnesota.

In addition to Brown, the Vikings are expected to show an interest in Bucs wide receiver Michael Clayton "at the appropriate time," according to a league source, but they may opt to check their other options in free agency first. Clayton is expected to start setting up visits "very soon."

First, however, the Vikings likely will want to investigate a free agent who seems to be targeting them. Top free-agent wide receiver T.J. Houshmandazeh told ESPN late Thursday night that the Vikings are among the teams he wants his agent to make contact with.

"I'm looking at teams I think have good coaches and good offensive lines and good running games. I have no idea if those teams are interested in me," he told ESPN.

"If I can play with Adrian Peterson, can you imagine what I would do getting one-on-one coverage with Adrian Peterson? I am going to win 98.6 percent of the time with one-on-one coverage with him in the backfield."

One of the biggest needs for the Vikings is at right tackle, but they weren't known to have set up any visits with free-agent tackles set up as of late Thursday night.

The team was able to re-sign a couple more of their own players Thursday before free agency hit. They inked Jayme Mitchell to a two-year contract and tendered a qualifying offer to defensive tackle Fred Evans.

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