Bevy Of Talent Available

Players cut the last few weeks could easily combine to make a starting team, as free agency and the salary cap continue to put good talent on the street every March.

It's always a little ugly when the time comes for teams over the league-imposed salary cap limit to reduce payrolls to get under the cap by the start of free agency. But this year it may have been as ugly as it's ever been. In fact, VU could make an entire team out of the high-salary players jettisoned within the last couple of weeks. Don't believe us? Check this out.

Start with the skill positions. We could go with Kordell Stewart, Neil O'Donnell or Jim Miller at QB — all of whom ironically played for the Steelers at one time or another. At running back, we could have the all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith or Stephen Davis of the Redskins and Terrell Fletcher as a third-down back. Need a fullback? We got ‘em — either Fred McCrary of the Chargers or James Hodgins of the Rams. At wide receivers, the options are endless. We could have both of the Ismail brothers, Shawn Jefferson, Germane Crowell, Curtis Conway and Donald Hayes. Need a two-tight end formation? How about Wesley Walls and Jay Riemersma?

Any offense needs horses up front and our "All-Cut" team has them. We have Pro Bowlers at both tackles with Richmond Webb (Cincinnati) and James Williams (the "Big Cat" from Chicago). If one of them gets hurt, former first-round pick Blake Brockermeyer can step in. At guard, we've got Denver starter Lennie Friedman, Dave Fiore of the Niners and swingman Waverly Jackson of the Colts. At center? Who else, former Viking Jeff Christy, with Cleveland's Dave Wohlabaugh waiting in reserve.

Our defense may even be better than our offense. Up front, we'd have to make our own cuts. At DE, we'd have to choose from Regan Upshaw, Duane Clemons and Kavika Pittman. At DT, we could go with Dana Stubblefield, Sam Adams, Shane Dronett or Chester McGlockton.

In the middle, our linebackers could hold up. Former Browns Jamir Miller, Earl Holmes and Dwayne Rudd could start — just changing jerseys. The secondary would be loaded. At CB, we could have Aeneas Williams, Denard Walker, Tory James, Alex Molden, Ashley Ambrose, Corey Fuller and Dexter McCleon. At safety, we could use Damien Robinson (Jets), Anthony Dorsett (Oakland), hard-hitting Rodney Harrison of San Diego and Washington's Sam Shade.

If needed, we could even sign kicker Todd Peterson and punter Craig Hentrich to give us a full team. Some of these players have since been signed or re-signed in free agency, but the point is that the talent is out there to help improve the Vikings.

For a couple of months, we've said this is a good year for the Vikings to have a lot of money to spend. For those teams who didn't have the cash, they made the pool a whole lot deeper by making their forced cuts.

* The Vikings lost out on cornerback Dre' Bly, who never gave the team the opportunity to talk contract. Bly visited the Lions yesterday, and the NFC North rival signed him to a five-year $24.5 million contract before the Vikings had a chance to meet the player many thought was the best available cornerback on the free-agent market.
* Lewis Kelly is being penciled in as the team's starting left guard … at least for now. The Vikings are looking to sign another starter on the offensive line in free agency, possibly right tackle Orlando Brown, which would then have Chris Liwienski moving inside to guard and put Kelly as a backup.
* Defensive end Lance Johnstone's agent has had conversations with the Vikings about the former Raider returning to the Vikings, but Johnson is scheduled to visit with the New York Giants this week.

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