Moore could be worth a look
One receiver that has gotten very little attention during free agency, but who could well be worth a look is New Orleans Saints restricted free agent Lance Moore.
“I realize it will cost a second-round pick, but Moore is a talent and a great slot wide receiver,” according to Mike Lombardi of the National Football Post . “He’s only 26 years old, he can make people miss with the ball in his hands, and he’s the kind of player who forces teams to double him on third down. With the Saints’ [re-]signing of Devery Henderson, this might be the time for a team to make a move.”
He caught 79 passes for 928 yards (11.7 avg.) and 10 touchdowns last season with the Saints.
Moore (5-9 ¼, 190) is smallish, but a dynamite athlete who is super-quick with very good hands and a 40-inch vertical jump. He lacks top-end speed, but is very productive, quick off the line with a knack for getting open. He is explosive into and out of his cuts and gets separation from defenders. After the catch, he can make things happen.
This is a guy that can beat one-on-one coverage and create separation, something the team’s current No. 2 and No. 3 receivers struggle to accomplish at times. The biggest factor for any Vikings interest is the draft pick compensation. Rick Spielman will be very reluctant to part with his second-rounder.
How much does Birk have left?
While there is nothing to be gained by the Vikings at all criticizing the now-departed hometown favorite Matt Birk, there have been whispers that his play had regressed each of the past two seasons.
“Scouts had noticed a drop-off in Birk’s play the past two seasons, and though he was as smart and sound a technician as they had, the Vikings felt it was time to go younger at the position,” according to Pro Football Weekly’s Eric Edholm.
“Among the in-house candidates to replace Birk are second-year player John Sullivan, ORG Anthony Herrera and ORT Ryan Cook. Sullivan, like Birk a former sixth-round pick, impressed the Vikings last year, especially in training camp, and he has been one of the hardest workers at the team facility so far in this offseason, head coach Brad Childress said at the Combine. Insiders say Sullivan might have the best shot to win the job with a good offseason. Herrera could slide over from right guard, but then the team would be replacing two starters. And Cook, who is not likely to start outside again after a tough season, played center in college at New Mexico and could be asked to try it again.”
For an overall productivity standpoint, fans might be surprised that at the end of the season, either Sullivan or Herrera at center could turn out to be just as effective as Birk had been the past couple years. But the real concern is with the psychological affect of his absence and the intangible element of his experience leadership.
Limited value out there
The Vikings clearly are not going to “reach” to fill needs, even in free agency, with the market softer than in years past.
“Every year is different. It's like the draft,” said vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman. “You don't draft the same position every year, it's not the same players every year in the draft ... Everybody wants to see, 'What's new? What's new?' Well, sometimes you don't want to force anything that's not there, just to do it to do it because to me I think sometimes it ends up being a waste of money.”
That said, the Vikings went as high as they felt they should for T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but no farther.
“We just felt he was still a very good football player,” Spielman said. “Possibly add another potential guy in our passing game. That by no means doesn't mean we don't have a lot of faith in [receivers] Aundrae Allison and Sidney Rice continuing to improve. I think we're excited about our young guys. But if there is a guy out there who we feel can come in and potentially help us win ballgames, and we feel that strongly, we'll go ahead and make a run at it.”
There isn’t likely to be another Jared Allen-type acquisition before the draft, but those are more likely the type of situations to keep an eye on; veterans currently under contract with another team, restricted free agents, or other fluid roster moves that might not be on the immediate radar.
Paymah making the rounds
The Vikings are among the list of teams Broncos cornerback Karl Paymah, a fifth-year pro, is reportedly scheduled to visit. But he has already visited the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday, will visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneer s on Sunday, and the Cleveland Browns on Monday.
Paymah is not a top-tier prospect as a cornerback, but he would likely replace Benny Sapp as a nickel- or dime-cornerback. But perhaps more importantly, he is considered a very good special teams player, an area of significant need for the Vikings.
Forget about Garcia
Another insightful tidbit by ex-NFL GM Michael Lombardi: “Garcia is not the answer for the Vikings; he would be a third-team quarterback on this team. I never understand why people feel Garcia can start after watching him play last year. With the size of the Vikings’ offensive line, he would never be able to see over any of them, and he would be running around more than Tarvaris Jackson did.”
“Everyone in the Vikings organization needs to improve their craft, and if everyone can make a five- to 10-percent improvement, they will contend for the Super Bowl.”
Lombardi goes on to suggest the biggest key remains a better pass protector at right tackle. One way or another, the Vikings will address that spot before they line up again this season.
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