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.


Rice's departure has Vikings shopping for WR

Posted by: under Vikings, NFC, Packers, Ben Leber, Jared Allen, Pat Williams, Ryan Longwell, Sidney Rice Updated: July 28, 2011 - 10:22 AM

Another busy day at Winter Park, so let's get right to it.

  • With Sidney Rice gone, the Vikings have turned their attention toward the wide receivers on the free-agent market. One player we're hearing they are making a serious run at is 27-year-old James Jones, who has been with the Packers. Jones caught a career-high 50 passes for 679 yards and five touchdowns last season. A deal with Jones is not yet in place (as of 10 this morning) but it appears to be inching closer to getting done.
  • Other potential wide receiver targets include Braylon Edwards (Jets, 28 years old) and Malcom Floyd (Chargers, 29). Certainly there are more on the list, but the Vikings must add some quality depth at this position. As I said, Jones appears to be the target right now.
  • The Vikings can officially sign any free agents they come to terms with at 5 p.m. Friday. That means wide receiver Devin Aromashodu will sign on the dotted line at Winter Park around that time.
  • The Vikings can begin releasing players today, which means that defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy and wide receiver Freddie Brown are likely to be officially let go. The only question is are there others? Kennedy and Brown are the two players we know have been told they won't be back.
  • The Vikings kept one of their top free-agent targets by agreeing to terms with kicker Ryan Longwell on a contract (four years, $12 million, $3.5 million signing bonus) and lost another when Rice decided to take Seattle's guarantee of $18.5 million. Now, it's expected the team will begin talks with more of its free agents. That list should include linebacker Ben Leber, who might get more elsewhere but would like to stay in Minnesota. There have been no real contract talks with Leber so far. Some in the organization also want to bring back nose tackle Pat Williams, so talks could take place with his agent as well.
  • The Vikings have yet to announce the signing of any of their draft picks and quarterback Christian Ponder likely won't sign until Saturday at the earliest. I don't think there is any big issue here but teams are still trying to understand the rules for signing picks and there is a lot of business to take care of in short order. A lot.
  • Defensive end Jared Allen, appearing on ESPN, on the loss of Rice: "He was a big playmaker for us. He had injury issues last year, so we didn't get  the same Sidney as the year before. But I think as part of this league you're going to lose guys to free agency and injuries and somebody else has to step up and get the job done. We can't lose any sleep over it. We have to move forward."
  • Don't know when the Donovan McNabb to Minnesota trade is going to be announced. Sounds like it's supposed to be official today, but I heard the Vikings might not announce it until Friday. That might mean that's when McNabb is introduced to the media.
  • Finally, Mark Craig will be hosting a live chat on the Star Tribune website at noon today so join in with your free-agency questions as we get set to go to training camp on Sunday.
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