Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.
Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
Matt Birk's post-NFL career continues to advance rapidly.
The former Vikings and Ravens center was named the league's director of player development today.
According to a release from the NFL, Birk will "assist in developing the game at all levels of the sport, from players to coaches to front office personnel. He will also assist in the administration of NFL game day operations. Birk will guide the continued evolution of the Scouting Combine and Regional Combines as well as the annual all-star games for aspiring NFL players, such as the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game."
The St. Paul native was a six-time Pro Bowl pick in 15 NFL seasons who worked last season as an NFL/NFLPA appeals officer after retiring following Baltimore's victory in Super Bowl XLVII.
Former Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams said he has boarded a flight from New York with "nothing really to report" following his visit with the Giants today.
"Had a good visit and gonna see what happens!" Williams said via text message, indicating that the two sides have not made a decision despite the fact Williams left town without a deal.
Williams, who arrived in New York on Monday night, has not ruled out playing what would be a 12th NFL season after spending the first 11 with the Vikings. The Giants were the first team to bring Williams in for a visit. They're looking for a tackle to play alongside Cullen Jenkins after the Vikings signed nose tackle Linval Joseph earlier in free agency.
The Vikings have filled their depth at defensive tackle and had already ruled Williams out of their plans.
Former Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams could be close to extending his NFL career as a New York Giant.
Williams, who turns 34 in August, flew to Newark, N.J., from Atlanta this afternoon. He had dinner with Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn and other Giants defensive coaches tonight and will meet with head coach Tom Coughlin and members of the Giants’ front office on Tuesday.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” Williams said. “I played 11 years in Minnesota. It didn’t work out there and this is my first visit with another team. I’m not sure how to feel. It’s all new to me.”
Williams was the Vikings’ first-round draft pick in 2003. A five-time All-Pro pick and six-time Pro Bowl selection, Williams has missed only five games, including just three because of injuries. He had 60 sacks, five interceptions and seven forced fumbles as a Viking.
But Williams never was in the plans for new head coach Mike Zimmer. Williams said he accepted that as part of the business of the NFL, but also thinks he still has something left to give to the NFL.
“I knew eventually a team would reach out and show interest,” Williams said. “But I wasn’t worried about it. Either way, whether something works out [Tuesday] or doesn’t work out and I retire, I’m comfortable with that. I’m not a guy who’s worried about going home and leaving football behind. Football isn’t everything.”
Ironically, the Giants’ need at defensive tackle stems in part from the Vikings signing Giants nose tackle Linval Joseph early on in free agency. That left an opening inside next to former Packer Cullen Jenkins, who signed with the Giants via free agency last year.
“I had a good visit [Monday night],” Williams said. “It’s different. That’s for sure. But I would like to keep playing, so we’ll see how it goes [Tuesday].”
Joe Webb, used as a wide receiver by the Vikings last season, has signed with the Carolina Panthers ... as a quarterback.
The Panthers announced the signing on their website, with head coach Ron Rivera saying: "Joe had a strong workout for us today. He is a young player who intrigues us and has a similar skill set to Cam (Newton). With Cam sidelined for the spring, it is an opportunity to get a good evaluation of Joe as well as Matt Blanchard , who was on our practice squad last year."
Webb, a sixth round draft pick out of Alabama-Birmingham in 2010, was set be a receiver for the Vikings before then-coach Brad Childress like Webb's potential as a quarterback. He had his moments for the Vikings, particularly a strong Tuesday night performance in Philadelphia in 2011, but after a terrible outing replacing an injured Christian Ponder at QB in a playoff loss at Green Bay following the 2012 season, was moved to wideout by coach Leslie Frazier.
Webb caught five passes for 33 yards in 2013.
He tweeted (@JoeWebb_14) I want to say thanks to Minnesota Vikings and their fans for the great 4yrs they have given me. MN will always have a place in my heart.
And, of course, he put a photo of himself signing a contract on Instagram.
The Vikings are expected to release tight end John Carlson, two NFL sources have confirmed.
The team tried to restructure Carlson’s contract for a second straight offseason but the two sides couldn’t reach a deal. Carlson is expected to be released on Wednesday.
Carlson, 29, finished the season on injured reserve because of a concussion he suffered in Week 14 against the Ravens. Carlson told the Star Tribune in February that he planned to continue his football career next season. The concussion was his third in six NFL seasons.
The Litchfield, Minn. native signed a five-year deal worth $25 million in 2012. In two seasons with the Vikings, Carlson played 27 games and had 40 catches for 387 yards and a touchdown.
Most of his production occurred after tight end Kyle Rudolph broke a foot in Week 9 last season. Carlson had 283 yards and a touchdown in a five-week span as the starter before suffering the season-ending concussion.
The move is expected to save the Vikings around $2 million in salary cap space.
NFL free agency begins next Tuesday, although teams are allowed to negotiate with agents beginning Saturday.
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