Sunday slant: Rumor season starts

It's less than a week before free agency. Do you know where your off-base rumors are? Taking a look at the actual skills and schemes, we can pretty much dismiss one trade rumor involving the Vikings.

First came the rumor that the Vikings might franchise running back Chester Taylor. That deadline has come and passed and no offensive players were given the franchise tag.

Now comes another rumor that seems highly unlikely. This one, courtesy of ESPN, at first implied that a deal that sends CB Antonio Cromartie to the Vikings could happen very soon. Now that rumor has been toned down to say they could be one of several teams interested in Cromartie.

While the Vikings have a need for cornerback depth for sure with Antoine Winfield coming off a season when a fractured foot severely limited his availability and effectiveness and Cedric Griffin tore his anterior cruciate ligament, Cromartie makes little sense if you listen to the analysts who know not only which position a player mans but his strengths and weaknesses.

"At the end of the day, with the corners they've had, they'd like to be a Cover-2 team, which essentially means your corners are run-support players," NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell said Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "The classic example of Cromartie was the Shonn Greene touchdown in the playoffs, where Cromartie was the free defender in the hall and it was his play to make and he couldn't get out of there fast enough. It was embarrassing. It was one of those embarrassing plays for a corner. The Jets are pretty much a team where they say, ‘Here we are, we're running the ball.' They line up with six offensive linemen, they bring their wide receiver in motion inside the formation. They say, ‘Here we are. Stop us.' Cromartie was responsible, if I'm not mistaken, for the wide receiver that came in motion. He became a box player and it was actually his play to make."

He didn't make the play, but that didn't surprise those who see the inconsistencies in Cromartie's game, especially in run support. And that's a facet of the game in which the Vikings require their cornerbacks to be strong.

"I think he's more of a soft, unchallenging player than he is a risk-taker. He's not very aggressive. He's certainly not a press corner. He's almost kind of a relaxed corner. He's a guy you watch and you don't see any intensity to the way he moves," Cosell said.

"Cromartie to me is a perfect example of a guy that has a tremendous skill set for the position but doesn't play to his skill set. He's not a very competitive guy and it always bothers me about players because I think that's a DNA thing."

But the way the ESPN linked the Vikings and Chargers together indicates there is no real sourcing in the report, only guessing.

"Last week, the initial speculation was that suitors could include the Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Giants, Eagles, Falcons and 49ers. A possible swap with the Titans involving LenDale White has also surfaced, but has been dismissed pretty mightily by Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean from both teams' perspectives," the ESPN report said. "But what about the Vikings? The team is in need of an upgrade to the CB corps, and they could work out a sign-and-trade deal involving Chester Taylor, who wants to try his hand at being a featured back again."

Why would the Chargers trade for a player that is expected to hit the free-agent market at the end of the week? And then there is the matter of his contract.

"It's highly unlikely any team would trade for Cromartie on a one-year deal. His rookie deal expires after 2010," said's Adam Caplan. "He's set to make $1.2225 million in base salary for the final season. Any team that would want to deal for him would likely want him to sign an extension based on the compensation it would take to acquire him."

Meanwhile, as Caplan points out, the Vikings have Griffin and Winfield signed to long-term deals. Winfield is signed through 2013 and Griffin through 2014. Griffin may not be ready to play until midseason, but what happens after that if they have Cromartie in the mix?

"The team probably could use an upgrade at the nickel position," Caplan said. "It's doubtful that any team would trade for him to have him handle a nickel role. Based on that, it's doubtful the Vikings would have any serious interest in him."

So while the Chargers may want to rid themselves of Cromartie "sooner rather than later," don't expect the Vikings to be there ready to give up their own talent for a player that doesn't really fit the Minnesota scheme or M.O.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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