Free-Agent Linemen Intriguing

The Vikings' first priority in free agency is to sign Jim Kleinsasser, but there are some intriguing possibilities that could be available through free agency around the league at cornerback, and especially on the defensive line and offensive line.

Personnel improvements for 2003 will begin in earnest when this year's class of free agents become available at the beginning of March.

Vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski and director of football administration Dave Blando have compiled a budget and a plan for the salary cap and free agency.

Brzezinski and Blando have done a wonderful job of putting the team more than $25 million under the salary cap, so they can really control their own destiny when it comes to which players they want to pursue and how much they are willing to spend.

Re-signing tight end Jim Kleinsasser is also at the very top of their priority list. The Vikings have had preliminary talks with his agent, Jimmy Sexton, but there are indications that Kleinsasser might test the free agent market. Still, the Vikings need to lock Kleinsasser up. He's a key ingredient in making their offense go.

Other key unrestricted free agents include running back Moe Williams and tight end Hunter Goodwin. Restricted free agents are offensive lineman Lewis Kelly, running back Doug Chapman and nickel corner Tyrone Carter.

It is not a particularly strong crop this year, but the team is still looking to add a veteran at cornerback, defensive line and offensive guard.

Baltimore's Chris McAlister is the cream of the crop at cornerback, but there's no way the Ravens will allow him to hit the open market. They'll use their franchise tag on him if they have to. The only other name that piques the hard-core fans' curiosity is Dre' Bly (Rams).

On the defensive line, Hugh Douglas (Eagles), Vonnie Holliday (Packers), Chike Okeafor (49ers), Adalius Thomas (Ravens) and Mike Rucker (Panthers) are worth watching.

On the offensive line, keep an eye on the movements of Edwin Mulitalo (Ravens), Floyd Wedderburn (Seahawks), Solomon Page (Cowboys), Randy Thomas (Jets), Tom Nutten (Rams), Zach Wiegert (Jaguars), Flozell Adams (Cowboys), Ryan Young (Texans) and Luke Petitgout (Giants).

Other key developments could revolve around players who will be cap casualties as things unfold later in the spring and even into the summer.


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