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.
MANKATO -- Linebacker Ben Leber has yet to sign as a free agent but that could happen soon.
According to ESPN's John Clayton, the Seattle Seahawks are one of four teams vying for Leber's services. It's not clear at this point if the Vikings are in that mix. The 32-year-old Leber, who signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 2006 after four years in San Diego, has been the Vikings starting weak-side linebacker.
Erin Henderson will get the first shot at that role in training camp.
By Mark Craig
MANKATO -- Some highlights from reporting day while melting away in Mankato (Zulgad saying he's now down to his eighth-grade weight) ...
Coach Leslie Frazier said:
Other highlights ...
Keep checking back. Judd could be bringing more highlights later on.
By Judd Zulgad and Mark Craig
Donovan McNabb and Chris Kluwe negotiated the terms under which the quarterback will be given the No. 5 in a video you can find on the Vikings website (www.vikings.com).
Part of the deal was that McNabb mention the punter's band Tripping Icarus in five news conferences. Well, McNabb satisfied that number and then some on Friday during a conference call with reporters when asked about that part of the agreement.
In fact, McNabb said the band's name six times.
"Me and him have basically been selling some good rock music CDs out of the back of our trunk," McNabb joked. "There’s some group that he’s a part of, but I’ve been listening to them for a while. You guys should really check it out. I may be a member of it soon."
McNabb then added: "Tripping Icarus is a nice band that really has soothing music, it really changes the mood of things and it’s one that I enjoy. .. You talk about Tripping Icarus. Remember, you listen to Tripping Icarus, ease your mind, in your stores, Tripping Icarus and Triping Icarus."
Kluwe, not surprisingly, had drawn up a contract for his agreement with McNabb and in the video explains that the quarterback couldn't get away with just saying the band's name five times in one news conference. That means McNabb still has four more news conferences to figure out ways to work in Tripping Icarus.
Kluwe now plans to switch to the No. 4, which of course was worn by Brett Favre the past two seasons.
Berrian still around
In what could be a sign of the Vikings’ lack of depth at receiver, Bernard Berrian and his $6.3 million salary cap number are still on the roster on the eve of training camp. When asked who would be the team’s deep threat at receiver, Frazier said, "We’ve got Bernard Berrian here for a reason. He’s going step up and help us in that area."
Frazier said the Vikings might add a receiver eventually, but that wasn’t "our focus right now."
It's believed the Vikings are among three teams in the running for free agent wide receiver James Jones, who also is being pursued by the Jets and Packers. Jones played for Green Bay last season.
McNabb made it clear during his conference call that he wanted to put his one season in Washington in the past and move on. The Redskins went 6-10 and McNabb was benched twice and threw a career-worst 15 interceptions.
Washington coach Mike Shanahan, asked about what happened with McNabb, said:
“We were hoping he would fit into our system. I told Donovan when he came in here, I said: ‘Hey, here are the reasons why I think Philly did not sign you’ _ they were going to go with (Kevin) Kolb _ ‘this is what you’re going to have to do to stay on our football team for a number of years. If you do that, I think you’ve got a chance to go to the Pro Bowl and do the things you’ve been doing throughout your career.’ It didn’t work out. …
“I think Donovan has a great future ahead of him -- if he decides to do the little things that he needs to do to get to the next level.”
Shanahan declined to go into detail about what those “little things” are.”
The Vikings had not signed any of their 10 draft picks as of Friday night, but those deals should start getting done Saturday since there is only so much to go around in the pool of money for draft picks. Quarterback Christian Ponder, the Vikings' first-round pick, is hopeful his deal will be done Saturday.
"I know [vice president of football operations] Rob Brzezinski is working extremely hard on trying to get that done," Frazier said. "But like a lot of teams, we may end up where some guys aren’t on time but we’re hoping they’re all in on time."
See you later
The Vikings have lost three free agents, including defensive end Ray Edwards (Atlanta), quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (Seattle) and wide receiver Sidney Rice (Seattle). Rice was the only one the Vikings wanted back but the Seahawks gave him $18.5 million in guarantees in a five-year deal.
"I’m just happy for Sid and his family," Frazier said. "I’m glad things worked out the way they did for him. We would have loved to have him back, no question about it. But he got an offer that was satisfactory for his family."
On the market
Linebacker Ben Leber remains on the free-agent market and while he hopes to return to the Vikings he certainly has to be drawing interest from other teams. "He's a guy who's done a great job as well," Frazier said when asked about Leber. "I had a chance to speak to Ben on the phone and just explained where we were financially."
The Associated Press contributed to this report/blog.
Another busy day at Winter Park, so let's get right to it.
Kicker Ryan Longwell has agreed to terms on a four-year contract to return to the Vikings after being on the free-agent market, according to NFL sources.
The veteran won't be able to sign the deal until Friday and can't practice until Aug. 4 because that's when the NFL Players Association will recertify. Longwell's new deal is worth $12 milion and includes a $3.5 million in guarantees.
Longwell, 36, joined the Vikings as a free agent in 2006 after nine seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Last season, he made 17 of 18 field goals and 30 of 31 point-after attempts. Longwell has made 113 of 129 field-goal attempts since joining the Vikings and was 26 of 28 in 2009 as the team went to the NFC title game. With kickoffs being moved from the 30- to the 35-yard line this season Longwell becomes more valuable because his touchbacks will increase.
Longwell is the first of the Vikings' free agents that the team has retained. Given that Longwell signed quickly it's clear the team put a priority on keeping him.
The Vikings also are known to be trying to keep wide receiver Sidney Rice, who has drawn strong interest from Seattle and reportedly also is on the Rams radar. On Tuesday, the Vikings came to terms on an agreement with free-agent wide receiver Devin Aromashodu, who had been with the Chicago Bears.
Starting weak-side linebacker Ben Leber is another of the of the Vikings free agents but he said in a text message this afternoon that there is nothing new to report about his situation. It's also believed that talks have not started with veteran nose tackle Pat Williams, whose chances of returning appeared to increase when Jimmy Kennedy was told he would be released on Thursday.
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