Draft Juggling A Possibility

There is growing speculation around the league that the team others are targeting for a player they want is the Minnesota Vikings.

Last year, the Vikings had an extremely difficult time signing OT Bryant McKinnie, because the team and its negotiators were unaccustomed to the enormous signing bonuses given to top 10 draft picks and didn't feel they warranted that kind of money.

Apparently, that feeling hasn't changed. With the Vikings targeting defensive tackle and the DT spot being the deepest position in this year's draft, there is plenty of speculation that the Vikings will be more than willing to trade down to save money and stockpile picks.

Teams already being mentioned are New Orleans, Washington and Baltimore as potential suitors for the Vikings first-round pick. In the case of the Redskins and Ravens, the interest could be centered on QB Byron Leftwich. Once thought to be a near-lock for the Bears at No. 4, if Chicago signs QB Kordell Stewart, that need will go out the window on the first round and allow Leftwich to slide as far as the ninth pick to Carolina.

The longer he stays on the board, the more heat will be placed on the teams sitting with those picks -- VU has been told neither Dallas nor Arizona has Leftwich targeted as their QB of the future with the fifth or sixth overall pick. If so, the Vikings will get a lot of interest for the No. 7 pick and, if founded, will part with it for the right price.

* The Vikings signed Chicago kicker Paul Edinger to an offer sheet, but VU has been told that Vikes fans shouldn't get too excited, since the Bears are very likely to match the offer. VU has been told the deal is a five-year, $7 million deal with a $1.6 million bonus due immediately upon signing, which, in NFL terms, is called a poison pill designed to make it difficult for the other team to sign. The Vikings signed a similar deal with D'Wayne Bates last year only to have the Bears match it, decide they didn't want Bates at that price and eventually release him. Look for the Bears to match the offer sheet by next Saturday's deadline. If they don't, the Vikings will forfeit a sixth-round pick (where Edinger was drafted) as compensation.
* The chances of signing Neil O'Donnell are getting dimmer by the day. O'Donnell is visiting the Ravens this weekend, and the Vikings are prepared to move on without him.
* Four members of the Vikings organization attended a team workout for the Miami Hurricanes. First rounders projected from the team include WR Andre Johnson, DT William Joseph and DE Jerome McDougle.
* Word is circulating that, if the Vikings don't re-sign Moe Williams, former Dolphins 1,000-yard runner Lamar Smith is on the team's radar scope.

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