Free agency review: Needs still exist

The Vikings signed their first two free agents outside the team this week, but there are still positions in which the Vikings can improve.

It took just over two weeks, but the Vikings finally went outside the organization to sign two free agents this week.

Cornerback Karl Paymah, who had spent his first four NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos, agreed to a one-year, $1.55 million contract that includes $500,000 in potential incentives that could bring the deal to over $2 million.

Considering the Vikings investment in Paymah, it's expected he will be given every chance to win a job playing in the nickel package. Minnesota also is bringing back Charles Gordon and Benny Sapp. Both saw time in the nickel last season.

Paymah also will be expected to make a big contribution on special teams.

The Vikings also signed receiver Glenn Holt, who should be a frontrunner for the top kick return job and battle for a position as the fourth or fifth receiver.

Unlike a year ago when the Vikings were extremely active in free agency, those are the only two signings outside the organization.

The Vikings made a strong push to land wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh but that did not happen and the team did not sign a player from another roster until two weeks of free agency had passed. The Vikings also lost center Matt Birk to the Baltimore Ravens after he spent 11 seasons in Minnesota.

The Vikings opened the new league year by trading for Houston quarterback Sage Rosenfels and then re-signing tight end Jim Kleinsasser. The Vikings also let go of three of their own players, releasing quarterback Gus Frerotte, running back Maurice Hicks and linebacker Vinny Ciurciu.


1. Right tackle: Ryan Cook hasn't proven to be the answer and versatile veteran Artis Hicks is probably best suited to serve as a backup.

2. Wide receiver: The Vikings have depth here with Bernard Berrian, Bobby Wade, Sidney Rice, Darius Reynaud and Aundrae Allison. But the strong run they made at T.J. Houshmandzadeh made it clear the team wants to upgrade its talent level.

3. Center: With free agent Matt Birk having signed with Baltimore, the Vikings seem prepared to turn over the job to 2008 sixth-round pick John Sullivan. The Vikings likely want to add more depth at this position and create competition for Sullivan so he isn't handed the job.


  • DT Kenderick Allen spent the season on injured reserve after injuring his right wrist during the Vikings' preseason opener. It would not be surprising if he does not return.

  • S Michael Boulware spent the year on injured reserve after suffering a broken wrist during the preseason. Could return in a special-teams role in 2009.

  • LB Napoleon Harris signed early in the regular season after middle linebacker E.J. Henderson was lost because of a foot injury. Harris, who had been let go by Kansas City before joining the Vikings, likely will be allowed to leave.

  • OT Marcus Johnson, the lone remaining member of the Vikings' 2005 draft class, was a non-factor in 2008 and almost certainly won't be back.

  • LB Dontarrious Thomas signed during the season to add depth after Henderson was injured. The Vikings probably won't try to bring him back.

  • DT Ellis Wyms proved to be a valuable backup to 3-technique Kevin Williams. He has expressed a desire to return.

  • DE Otis Grigsby (not tendered as RFA) was impressive in training camp but did little during the season.

  • DT Fred Evans (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) was the primary backup to Pat Williams at nose tackle. Evans is considered to be an ascending player.

  • FB Naufahu Tahi (tendered at $1.01M with no compensation) took over as starting fullback in 2008. Tahi was set to visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.

  • FB Heath Farwell: UFA; $7.75M/2 yrs, $3.25M SB.

  • CB Charles Gordon: Potential RFA; $535,000/1 yr plus incentives.

  • DT Jimmy Kennedy: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

  • TE Jim Kleinsasser: UFA; $9M/3 yrs, guarantee unknown.

  • DE Jayme Mitchell: Potential RFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

  • CB Benny Sapp: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

  • WR Glenn Holt: Not tendered as RFA by Bengals; 1 yr, terms unknown.

  • CB Karl Paymah: UFA Broncos; $1.55M/1 yr.

  • QB Sage Rosenfels (trade Texans).

  • C Matt Birk: UFA Ravens; $12M/3 yrs, $6M guaranteed.

  • LB Vinny Ciurciu (released).

  • QB Gus Frerotte (released).

  • RB Maurice Hicks (released).

  • S Darren Sharper: UFA Saints; terms unknown.

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