Vikings Surprised, Not Frustrated

The Vikings' only major free-agent signing to date has been cornerback Denard Walker. Why? One team official said other NFL teams are taking a different approach to free agency this year.

You would think Vikings director of pro scouting Paul Wiggin would have a feel for what the trends in the NFL's free agency system are going to be considering he has been involved in the process since the Plan B days. But Wiggin admits the free spending that has taken place this winter has surprised him a bit.

"I think we have encountered something we kind of have gotten away from a little bit in this league," he said. "The initial flurry of things was a little more dramatic than I thought. There has been a lot more big money thrown out in a hurry at different players. That kind of shocked me because it seemed to me like free agency had kind of settled back where people were using judgment and they were measuring things. They were evaluating players, and the players were evaluating them.

"It looks to me like we are back to everybody makes up their mind who they want and they are going to get him no matter what. That was a little bit surprising to me. I think there is a lot more money being thrown around than I expected.

"I thought with the salary cap and some of the things people have encountered over the years recently that that kind of thing would have tapered off a little bit more."

So what's the reason for the big bucks being thrown around?

"I don't know," Wiggin said. "Not that I make those decisions. It's kind of funny to watch it. I remember when (free agency) first started ... there was a wild flurry of activity and it seemed like it had kind of mellowed each successive year. Yet, it seems to have intensified this year. Maybe it's not the new amount of money in the cap with the $75 million. I just don't know. People are trying to solve their needs and pay probably more than they should. At least some of these people in my opinion.

"You know in free agency in general you are going to have to pay more than the player is worth. That's just the way the system works and that's the way they wanted it to work. The players association geared it that way. But to me it has gotten really heavy duty."

The Vikings have been relatively quiet in free agency's intitial stages, watching coveted defensive backs Dre' Bly, Dexter McCleon, Corey Fuller and Tory James go elsewhere.

Defensive lineman Billy Lyon left the Packers to sign a three-year contract with the Vikings earlier this month. The organization made its first big signing last week when cornerback Denard Walker signed a four-year deal worth $13 million.

The Vikings also pursued Bears kicker Paul Edinger, signing him to an offer sheet worth $7 million over five years. The Bears, however, matched it.

Despite the amount of cash being tossed around, Wiggin said he isn't frustrated by how free agency is shaking out.

"Not really," he said. "You'd like everybody to come to you for free, but they are not going to do that. There were two or three situations where we had people lined up and couldn't get them in here to sell them on being part of our football team and even come close to getting into the negotiations for it.

"But (teams) are doing this now when players come through town. The players get there and the teams have the mentality that, ‘We have looked at enough tape and we know exactly what we want from this player. We know what he does, he's a fit for us and when he comes through here he's not leaving town. We are going to (get) him while he's here.'

"That's kind of the mentality (teams) are using. If you use that mentality and the agents are aware you are using it, you are going to lose the perspective of your dollars a little bit in that situation."

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