Stable And Building

A league source comments on the likelihood of the Vikings ever moving to L.A., and reaction from a regional NFL scout that believes the Vikings are close to putting it all together soon.

There remains a buzz throughout the NFL about a team in Los Angeles, the second largest television market in the country. Late last season speculation arose that the Minnesota Vikings were one of a few options viable to fill the void on the West Coast.

League sources tell this column as late as this past week that a definitive course of action has not been determined, but the Minnesota Vikings have not been discussed as an option in the latest stages of the process.

Citing the realistic unwillingness to move or permit a team owner to relocate another franchise without justifiable cause, all indications are that the NFL does not believe that the situation in Minnesota warrants the moving of the team. On the contrary, league sources have indicated that the league is a willing participant in helping to resolve a long-standing stadium issue.

Off-Season Tinkering
More than a few subtle changes will take place on the roster of the Vikings this off-season. League sources tell The Insiders that the Vikings, rich in salary cap space and with a committed desire to regain their winning form of recent seasons gone by, are expected to be a driving force in the open market, when the free agency signing period begins on Feb. 28.

Recent estimates from a team source place the Vikings approximately 24.3 million dollars under the salary cap, which will be in the area of 75.1 million dollars for the 2003 season. The Vikings have shown financial responsibility over the past two seasons. In limiting their spending in the competitive free-agent player market and while attempting to improve the team with youth, the Vikings are headed in the right direction.

Scout Talk
The second half of the 2002 season was not a mirage. Actually, the Vikings were expected by many in the league to be competitive from the outset last year. Under first-year head coach Mike Tice, the Vikings rallied down the home stretch and gained confidence in themselves and respect throughout the league.

Attempting to build upon the late-season success, the Vikings should have a plan in place to take the program to the next level, with sites on being playoff contender no later than the 2004 season.

The Insiders had the opportunity to talk some about the Vikings with a regional scout in the NFL this past week, and he shares some thoughts on what direction that the Vikings are headed.

"The Minnesota team is one that has the potential to turn their program around in one season. With the money they have available to spend for free-agent players, they could quite conceivably fill several critical defensive areas and further supplement the talent base with the NFL player draft," the scout said. "Having some working knowledge of the Vikings front office structure, I expect them to make some prudent acquisitions to fulfill their roster needs. Scouting this team twice in the 2002 season, once early in the season and once late in the season, they (the Vikings) are an improving team.

"Once Minnesota addresses issues in the defensive backfield, linebacker, defensive line, and on the offensive line, they will have the ability to be extremely tough. I know that sounds like a tremendous amount of areas to fill, but in reality they only need to make slight changes in some of those areas to be competitive week-in and week-out."

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