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.


When will action supplant Vikings' vague level of interest in Kevin Williams?

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: March 19, 2014 - 9:10 AM

Lying is a strong word, so we won't use that one. So we'll phrase the following question this way: How do you know an NFL executive is being less than forthright for competitive reasons, particularly in the spring, when he's elbowing 31 other execs while trying to overhaul his roster at the start of a new league year?

A: His lips are moving. (Ba-dump-ba).

When it comes to being less than forthright for competitive reasons, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman performs at a high level. That's not a rip. Unless you're the Browns and you're still nursing that Spielman smokescreening you choked on while trading up one spot to take Trent Richardson in 2012.

We bring this up because Henry Melton, the former Bears defensive tackle, finally ended his multi-city free agency tour by picking a team to sign with. In picking Dallas, Hank managed to choose the only defense worse than the Vikings a year ago. And in doing so, he also cracked the door open a smidge for the possibility that the Vikings might bring Kevin Williams back for a 12th season.

The Vikings tabbed Melton as the guy who could provide depth at the three-technique tackle spot and replace some of that interior pass rush that Everson Griffen provided off the bench the past four years. Griffen, of course, is now the starting right end.

Melton left Winter Park late last week without a deal, but the Vikings had stayed in touch with his agent just in case.

The day that Melton left town, Spielman was on a conference call with local reporters. He was asked if the Vikings still have interest in Kevin Williams, who will be 34 in August.

Asking the Vikings if they want Williams and Williams if he wants the Vikings has been a popular question around town for months. It, so far, has produced the vague responses that now qualify as hot news. The Vikings say they love Williams and will see how things go. Williams says he loves the Vikings and will see how things go.

Well, it might be time to find out how things actually will go. For the record, here was Spielman's public comments on Williams as of last Friday:

"I talked to his agent a few days ago and we’re continuing to monitor that. There’s no decision that’s been made. I told him we’d leave it open but we are trying to address some other needs that we definitely wanted to get done first, but there’s no decision that’s been made on Kevin Williams at this point."

Signing Williams isn't -- or shouldn't -- be like signing some other guy off the street in March. The Vikings can't -- or shouldn't -- just bring him in to compete for depth at defensive tackle. They need to have a better feel for whether this soon-to-be 34-year-old will make Mike Zimmer's team and have a role that he's 100 percent comfortable with.

If the possibility of bringing him in and then having to cut him to make room for some more affordable no-name youngster with an upside is even a remote possibility, then the Vikings should look to sign someone else. That has to -- or should be -- part of the decision-making process involving Williams.
 

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