A shopping spree for the Purple

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG and KEVIN SEIFERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 11, 2006 - 9:56 PM

Normally one of the league's more conservative bidders, the Vikings signed three of their top prospects on Day 1 of free agency.

Free agency finally began and teams moved furiously to address their most pressing needs. The Vikings, with a league-high $31 million war chest and a more aggressive spending directive from new owner Zygi Wilf, were uncharacteristically smack-dab in the middle of it on Day 1.

They immediately filled three holes, signing Chargers outside linebacker Ben Leber, Ravens running back Chester Taylor and decisively outbidding the Packers and Buccaneers for Green Bay kicker Ryan Longwell, a nine-year division nemesis who beat the Vikings with last-second field goals twice in 2004. And late Saturday night they were attempting to fill a fourth. Seattle Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson arrived in the Twin Cities for a visit, and negotiations could begin today on an offer sheet.

Longwell's five-year, $10 million deal reportedly was clinched when the Vikings sweetened their signing bonus from $2 million to $3 million, causing the Bucs to fold. It wouldn't be the last time the Vikings would flex their financial muscle on Saturday.

"We wanted to be proactive [Saturday]," said Fran Foley, Vikings vice president of player personnel. "We wanted to get ahead of some people on some folks before this free agency thing caught up with some people and they started discovering new monies."

Taylor signed a four-year, $14.1 million deal, $5.6 million of it guaranteed. Leber's deal was for five years and about $20 million, with a $4 million signing bonus.

While visiting with all three players Saturday, the Vikings also placed safety and guard high on their list of future visits. Buccaneers safety Dexter Jackson, a former Super Bowl MVP, will visit on Monday after spending today in Cincinnati. Ravens safety Will Demps also might visit the Vikings, possibly on Monday.

And the biggest splash to come could be at guard because it appears Seattle's transition tag on Hutchinson hasn't discouraged the Vikings. The Seahawks hold the right to match any offers.

Longwell is an 81.6 percent career field-goal kicker, including 74.1 percent (20 of 27) last year. He also holds several Packers team records, including career scoring (1,054) and field goals made (226).

"I don't expect to be welcomed back [when the Vikings visit Lambeau Field], but I'm very proud of what I accomplished in Green Bay," Longwell said. "I know this Vikings-Packers rivalry is about as heated as it gets. I'm happy to be wearing purple and be on this side of the battle for the next bunch of years."

Leber, a 6-3, 244-pound outside linebacker, was limited to nine games in 2005 because of a foot injury that required surgery three months ago.

"It's pretty much behind me," he said of the injury. "I'm not quite 100 percent, but definitely right up there."

When healthy, Leber is considered a good fit for the coverage and pass rushing skills required for the Vikings' Cover-2 defense.

"I had the opportunity to play in this style of defense for two years in San Diego," Leber said. "So I'm familiar with this scheme."

Taylor isn't an established feature back, but he's only 26 and has fresh legs, never having carried the ball more than 160 times in an NFL season. As Jamal Lewis' primary backup, Taylor never has rushed for more than 714 yards in a season, but he has a career average of 4.3 yards per carry.

"The last [free agent] to come out of Baltimore as a backup [running back] was Priest Holmes," Foley said. "I'm not saying he's Priest Holmes, but I'm sure he had some of [proving himself] in the back of his mind. That was a selling point for us."

The feeling was mutual, Taylor said.

"I played backup to Jamal Lewis for four years," he said. "Just standing on the sideline was killing me a little bit."

Saturday also was a day of departures for former Vikings. Strong safety Corey Chavous and cornerback Brian Williams, both former starters, signed with the Rams and Jaguars, respectively. Chavous signed a five-year deal with the St. Louis Rams that includes about $6 million in base salary and bonus for this season. Williams, with his transition tag rescinded, signed a six-year, $32 million deal that included a $10 million signing bonus.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay 4 Top 7th Inning
Baltimore 4
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland 1 Top 6th Inning
Chicago WSox 1
Minnesota 4 Top 5th Inning
Kansas City 3
Texas 2 Top 5th Inning
Houston 0
Oakland - S. Gray 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 4th Qtr 7:51
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 4th Qtr 3:51
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 4th Qtr 10:00
Green Bay 27
NY Jets 7 4th Qtr 6:10
Philadelphia 30
St. Louis 13 4th Qtr 8:57
Miami 7
Carolina 10 4th Qtr 15:00
Pittsburgh 0
New England 10 3rd Qtr 3:16
NY Giants 10
Washington 17 3rd Qtr 1:45
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 16 3rd Qtr 13:02
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 3rd Qtr
Cleveland 17
Denver 10 3rd Qtr 12:46
Dallas 3
Minnesota 16 3rd Qtr 12:22
Tennessee 0
San Francisco 14 3rd Qtr
Houston 6
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 4th Qtr 12:19
ULM 10
Boise State 3 3rd Qtr
(18) Ole Miss 7
Tulane 21 2nd Qtr 0:32
Tulsa 14
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Temple 9:13 PM
Vanderbilt
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close