Not a bad first day of free agency for the Vikings.
They signed former Green Bay Packer kicker Ryan Longwell, former Baltimore Ravens running back Chester Taylor, and former San Diego Chargers linebacker Ben Leber.
As expected, they lost cornerback Brian Williams, who reunited with Mike Tice by signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars for six years for $32 million, including a $10 million signing bonus. Corey Chavous was reunited with former Vikings offensive coordinator and now Rams head coach, Scott Linehan. Chavous a five-year deal worth $16 million that includes a $4 million signing bonus.
Losing is tough but he deserves the big contract. The Jags made a good move.
I liked Corey Chavous but he wasn’t all that great last year; he was out of position so often. You gotta wonder what happened. He was amazing in 2003, making the Pro Bowl with 108 tackles, eight interceptions and 15 passes defensed. Maybe he’s lost a step since then or maybe he’ll return to form with the Rams where he will apparently play free safety, instead of the strong safety position he played last year.
Thirty minutes before free agency began the Vikings signed wide receiver Koren Robinson to a three-year deal is worth $12.7 million with a $1 million signing bonus.
Chester Taylor’s four-year contract is worth $14.1 million and includes $5.6 million in guaranteed bonuses. From the Pioneer Press‘ Sean Jenson‘s article today, it appears Taylor’s slated to carry the load for us in the backfield, getting 20 to 30 touches a game. That probably means we’re not going after a first round running back. Too bad; I would’ve like to see Maroney in Purple.
Ryan Longwell signed a five-year deal for $10 million that included $3 million in guaranteed bonuses. I liked Paul Edinger but Longwell is definitely an improvement; he’ll improve in the Dome and he knows how to kick in inclement weather as well.
Ben Leber’s deal is for five years, $20 million and includes guaranteed bonuses of more than $4 million. The Vikings must see something about this guy beyond what’s on paper because, well, there’s not much there on paper. It is disappointing that it appears Will Witherspoon is not in the Vikings plans because, gawd, that would’ve been fan-tast-ic! But even though this is a great draft for linebackers, I don’t see how the Vikings can’t sign another veteran linebacker or two when you consider that Keith Newman is probably a goner and Sam Cowart definitely is. The other top-ranked linebackers available are the 49ers‘ Julian Peterson and the Redskins LaVar Arrington.
The Seattle Seahawks’ Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson is supposed to be in town today. He’s a transitional player, so if the Vikings want him (and I really hope they do, considering the Cleveland Browns landed the other superstar free agent lineman, LeCharles Bentley), they’ll need to make him an offer that the Seahawks will not even want to consider matching so we don’t have to continue to shop for a guard).
Also visiting today is Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dexter Jackson and on Monday, Baltimore Ravens‘ safety Will Demps will visit.
Dexter Jackson earned a Super Bowl MVP by intercepting two Rich Gannon passes. With Tampa, the 6′ 10" 210 pound Jackson played free safety under Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. The seven-year veteran had 32 tackles last year with 13 assists, one sack, one interception, and four passes defended. He’s played his entire career with Tampa Bay except for 2003, when he played for the Arizona Cardinals. That was his best year, statistically: He made 75 tackles with 13 assists, six intereceptions and seven passes defended.
Will Demps has his own web site (I’ll spare you the vanity flash intro). He’s a four-year veteran stands 6′ 0" and weighs in at 205 pounds. Last year he had 48 tackles with four assists and two passes defended. The year before he had 66 tackles with 19 assists, 2.5 sacks, one interception, and six passes defended.
It is interesting that both safeties played free safety, which tells me they want a swifter, more roaming type defensive back to fill their strong safety position.
Check out the Vikings site for the press conference transcript.
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