Former Viking still lost at sea

Former Viking Marquis Cooper, who played in one game for the team in 2006, is among four men lost at sea. Corey Smith, a free-agent defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, is also among the group.

With all of the talk around the NFL concerning players who will be getting rich by cashing in on free-agent contracts, a potential tragedy may be unfolding in the Florida Gulf Coast involving a pair of NFL players, including one with Vikings ties, that were among four men missing at sea Sunday.

Corey Smith, a defensive end for Detroit, and Marquis Cooper, a linebacker for Oakland, left a marina in Clearwater Pass, Fla. on a fishing trip that they were supposed to return from late Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, a Coast Guard helicopter searched a 750-square mile area west of Clearwater Pass, but found nothing. Poor weather was said to have affected the search.

Also on the boat are Will Bleakley and Nick Schuler, a pair of former University of South Florida players. All four men were said to have lifejackets as well as emergency flares on board the 21-foot boat owned by Cooper. Officials reported that no distress signal was sent.

Cooper was a third-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004 and was signed by the Vikings on Sept. 5, 2006 – given he had played under then-Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, his experience in Tomlin's defense was his primary selling point. He was active for just one game with the team and was subsequently released Oct. 30.

While the NFL headlines are being dominated locally by the potential T.J. Houshmandzadeh signing, prayers are being sent out that this grim story will have a happy ending against growing odds.


  • As expected, the Housh talk is dominating the local Vikings news scene. He is still in the Twin Cities, which has to be viewed as a good sign. If he leaves town without a contract, the likelihood of him ending up a Viking will drop significantly.

  • The Bengals apparently aren't going away quietly. The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that the Bengals have an offer on the table that is better than what Plaxico Burress (a five-year, $35 million deal with $11 million of that guaranteed) received from the Giants last year. While it isn't the $10 million-a-year that Houshmandzadeh and his agent were seeking, it is significant. Considering his age and the fact most of the money guaranteed would likely be paid out over the next 12 months, it isn't an outrageous sum. It would be a shorter deal, but on par money-wise with what the team paid Bernard Berrian last year. The report stated that the Vikings and Seahawks are trying to get a three-year deal out of Housh and his agent.

  • As if that isn't bad enough, John Clayton of ESPN is reporting that Bengals QB Carson Palmer is blowing up Housmandzadeh's phone with calls trying to convince him to come back to the Bengals. You can't blame Palmer for trying – he HAS to stay with the Bengals.

  • The Vikings have been rumored to be a potential piece in the smoking gun that has left Broncos QB Jay Cutler stung and the Patriots looking for a leak. The Boston Globe broke the story that the Broncos were in negotiation with the Patriots to trade for Matt Cassel. One report claims that the Broncos were talking to teams like the Vikings concerning their interest in making a deal for Cutler. ESPN's Michael Smith, who has covered the Patriots in the Boston area, reported that the trade for Sage Rosenfels took the Vikings out of the potential trade partnering as part of a multi-team deal. It is unclear if the Vikings had any interest in Cutler, but the reports suggest the Rosenfels trade may have been a wrench in the works of a complicated trade proposal that at least Denver officials were pursuing. Other teams said to be mentioned in the potential trade discussions were the Lions and Buccaneers. Cutler has refused to meet with Broncos officials after saying he felt betrayed that the team was peddling him on the trading block and he was unaware of it. It doesn't look like a good start for new Denver head coach and former Patriots assistant Josh McDaniels.

  • The Texans didn't waste too much time replacing Sage Rosenfels. On Sunday they agreed to a three-year, $9 million deal with Dan Orlovsky – the same numbers of the deal the Vikings signed with Rosenfels. You might best remember Orlovsky for running seven steps out of the back of the end zone and trying to throw a pass with Jared Allen in pursuit when the Lions played the Vikings at the Metrodome in 2008. The Orlovsky signing comes a day after the Lions' opening-day starter Jon Kitna was traded to Dallas. It would seem the competition for Daunte Culpepper's starting job is gone – at least until Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez come to Motown.

  • Ray Lewis may end up re-signing with the Ravens as early as today. The two teams that were said to be hot on his heels prior to free agency – the Cowboys and Jets – have both addressed their inside linebacker needs. Dallas signed veteran Keith Brooking and New York signed Lewis' Ravens teammate, Bart Scott.

  • Memo to Cullen Loeffler: Be jealous. Very jealous. The Broncos may not be making Cutler happy, but Lonie Paxton is giddy. Who? The Broncos signed Paxton, the Patriots free-agent long snapper, to a five-year deal worth $5.1 million and a signing bonus of more than $900,000. Even the price of long snappers has gone through the roof. McDaniels may not have got Cassel to follow him west, but he got at least one Patriot to follow him – for a pretty hefty price.

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