Before the draft, two to pursue

The Vikings are obviously interested in upgrading their wide receiver corps after the pursuit of T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency and a number of receiver prospects visiting from the college ranks. But before the team goes quietly into the April 25-26 draft, they should be considering a trade for one of two talented wide receivers. What will it take in picks and contract extensions? See inside.

If the Vikings were pressing the issue with wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzaden during free agency in early March, why wouldn't they be looking at two other talented receivers whose teams are open to trading them?

The Vikings' name has yet to surface in any substantial talks with the Arizona Cardinals about Anquan Boldin or the Cleveland Browns regarding Braylon Edwards. But since the Vikings' draft board is for the most part set, they have surely done their due diligence on Boldin and Edwards.

Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters on Wednesday that they are open to accepting trade offers for Boldin.

"Before the draft, you know there is going to be talk about Anquan and his situation and a trade," Whisenhunt said. "Since not a whole lot has changed with his contractual situation, we know that will come back. It would be foolish from our standpoint not to listen to those opportunities and see what actually exists. But I want to make the points – our goal is to re-sign him to a long-term deal. That hasn't changed."

However, according to the Arizona Republic, no extension offer has been made. General manager Rod Graves admitted it would be a challenge to extend Boldin and Karlos Dansby, the Cardinals linebacker who was given the franchise tag and is also looking for an extension.

Boldin has been seeking his way out of Arizona since teammate Larry Fitzgerald received a four-year, $40 million contract. In 2005, Boldin signed a six-year deal worth almost $34 million and has made the Pro Bowl three times in the last six seasons.

One sticking point for the Vikings could be his age. He will turn 29 in October and has played a full 16-game schedule only twice because of the beating he takes as a receiver willing to go over the middle of the field.

"Boldin has the unique ability to be effective whether he's playing out wide or in the slot," said's Adam Caplan. "He can be used in a variety of ways and is the kind of physical presence in the passing game which the Vikings are lacking. He also runs fairly well after the catch."

Tom Marino, who has more than 30 years experience as an NFL scout, thinks Boldin on the Vikings' roster makes a lot of sense.

"I have to think he would be a very good get for the Vikings. He gives them a very consistent number one receiver. He is very effective in a dink-and-dunk offensive system of play," Marino said. "He is not very fast, but neither were (Cris) Carter or Sammy White and they all were pretty darn good."

Boldin has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in four of his seasons, but he has missed four games due to injury in each of his last two years.

Caplan and ESPN's John Clayton believe Boldin could fetch first- and third-round picks. Marino believes the Cardinals might have to accept less.

"Since they (Cardinals) are not dealing from a strong position, I would think the Vikings could get him for a two," Marino said.

Boldin has two years remaining on his contract. In 2009, he is scheduled to make $2.75 million in base salary with a cap hit of $4.75 million because of $2 million in prorated bonus money, according to a league source. In 2010, his base salary is $3 million with $1 million in prorated bonus. The Cardinals would take a $3 million cap hit for his prorated bonus if they traded him.

As for the Vikings, they have $17 million left in salary-cap space this year, according to a league source. They will likely need $3 million to $4 million to sign their rookies and always want to leave a few million to make moves during the season as injuries occur.

With Fitzgerald averaging $10 million per season in Arizona, Caplan figures Boldin's value in a new contract would probably fall between $7 million and $8 million. Last year, the Vikings signed free-agent receiver Bernard Berrian to a six-year contract worth $7 million per season. Berrian still doesn't have a 1,000-yard season but is almost two years younger than Boldin.

Boldin has 6,496 yards receiving and 40 touchdowns in six seasons.

The Browns' Edwards is considered more a stretch-the-field type of receiver and holds the franchise's single-season records for receiving yards and touchdown receptions with his breakout 2007 campaign, when he had 80 catches for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. Last year, despite playing in all 16 games, Edwards' production dropped to 55 receptions for 873 yards and three touchdowns.

The Giants and Eagles have reportedly been showing an interest in Edwards. The Browns have been trying to accumulate high draft picks with an already-consummated trade of tight end Kellen Winslow for second- and fifth-round picks and have been rumored to be interested in trading quarterback Brady Quinn for a high-round pick as well.

While the Browns may want a wide receiver in return, according to Barry McBride of The Orange and Brown Report, they also have needs at safety, right guard and tackle, running back and outside linebacker. Chester Taylor is a name often thrown around in Vikings trade rumors, but, despite only having one year left on his contract, Taylor has proved to be a very valuable backup to Adrian Peterson and ultra-reliable third-down back.

The only other position of need for Cleveland where the Vikings might be able to give up a player among those mentioned is at linebacker, where Heath Farwell re-signed with the Vikings but said that a he was treated well by the Browns and their new head coach, Eric Mangini, when he took a free-agent visit there.

"They really wanted me and they thought I fit well in their system. They were really interested in getting me," Farwell said after signing with the Vikings. "I really enjoyed my trip there, got a lot out of that one. It was a tough decision."

If Edwards is traded, the favorites right now have to be the Giants and Eagles, but the Vikings have to at least consider the possibilities with him and Boldin before Minnesota is on the clock next Saturday.

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