Vikes Say "Get In Or Get Out"

The Vikings have sent a message that they aren't going to spend "stupid money" on free agents (see yesterday's update). The process now is turning to a "get the feeling" mode.

Yesterday, a VU staff writer explained why the Vikings haven't gone stupid in paying for free agents -- like Detroit paying an outrageous contract to cornerback Dre' Bly.

In light of that story, VU has been told that, while accurate in its reporting, the Vikings are in fact willing to spend. How much remains at issue.

Several players are looming on the radar screen, starting at cornerback. The Vikes have missed out on some early CB signings but continue to talk with the agent for Raiders CB Tory James. So far, VU has been told talks haven't progressed to the signing stage. For that reason, Denver's Denard Walker, who has already met with Cincinnati and St. Louis, is scheduled in today. If neither of them pans out, Kevin Mathis is scheduled to visit next week. The message is clear -- the Vikes have set aside money for a veteran CB. That's bad news for rookie Marcus Trufant, who some think the Vikes will reach for at pick No. 7 -- not VU, but some in contact with us.

On the QB front, Tice is being, well, Tician. Neil O'Donnell remains the team's top prospect as a backup QB, but VU has been told by a deep source that, if O'Donnell doesn't respond by the end of this week to a "final offer," the bets are off and Gus Frerotte hits the front burner.

Finally, in an example of "what have you done for me lately?" the Vikes are looking for a wide receiver to compete for a starting job. Derrius Thompson, late of the Redskins and currently visiting the Eagles, was seen as an early option -- until his agent started spewing out absurd figures for a contract. Don't expect to see the Vikings getting the D.T.'s any time soon.

* VU would have made this story our top item for today -- and might as the story gets more confirmation -- but we have it on a mutual understanding from both ends of a deal that the Vikings are talking with the Redskins about a deal for draft day. In the deal, the Vikings would trade the No. 7 overall pick to the Redskins for the No. 13 pick and third-year man Fred Smoot. While Smoot could be a tough signing, VU has been told by a Washington-based Deep Throat that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder (at the behest of coach Steve Spurrier) is so hopped up on getting wide receiver Andre Johnson of Miami that he is willing to make the deal to get in front of the Jaguars at No. 8. The Jags have their sites on Johnson. If the Vikes should drop down, the five picks in front of them could go in a worst-case scenario. The Panthers will pick offense -- whether QB Byron Leftwich or OT Jordan Gross are still available. The Rams will also go offensive line barring a trade. That leaves the Jags, Seahawks and Ravens. There is the potential all three could go after defensive tackles -- William Joseph, Dewayne Robertson and Rien Long. If one of those three remains, the Vikes could make out like bandits. If not, don't be stunned to see the team trade down again or shock the league by grabbing another offensive lineman -- tackle Kwame Harris of Stanford or guard Eric Steinbach of Iowa. As we said, both sides have confirmed discussions, but too many things have to fall into place to make this mutually beneficial trade a reality.
* OT Orlando Brown met with the Patriots Thursday. Like the Vikings, they are impressed with Brown's conditioning -- considering his lack of NFL playing time lately.
* As anticipated yesterday, Harold Morrow signed a three-year deal with the Ravens Thursday. He will be a special teamer and part-time fullback on offense.
* From the Who Do You Believe? Department comes this: VU is getting two stories as it pertains to the Packers home opener. What we do know is the Pack has asked that their first home game be at 3:15 p.m. Central Time. One scenario has it that they want that game to be vs. the Vikings -- and have requested such from the NFL. The other has it that, thanks to solid ratings, ABC wants the Vikings game at Lambeau to be in December on Monday Night Football. VU has heard the latter -- December MNF -- too often to ignore. Expect to see the Bears at Lambeau in September and the Vikes under the lights in December.

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