Dan Wiederer began covering the Vikings in 2011, enthusiastically delivering insight on the team across the Star Tribune's print and digital products. Prior to joining the Access Vikings team, he spent seven seasons covering ACC basketball at The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. He also covered the Chicago Bears in 2003 and 2004. Follow him on Twitter @StribDW.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
MANKATO -- Matt Kalil, the fourth player taken in the NFL draft, was signed by the Vikings this morning.
The offensive tackle from USC is the final player to agree to terms as the players report today in Mankato.
Kalil's contract is for four years, and there is no "offset" language that would protect the Vikings in case he turns out to be a failure.
The contract is worth nearly $20 million and will be guaranteed. Kalil's signing bonus is almost $13 million, profootballtalk.com reported.
Coach Leslie Frazier obviously was happy about having his franchise left tackle in place a day before camp practices open.
"He's a key part of what we want to do in 2012," Frazier said earlier today when addressing reporters. "I don't know who's happier, he or [quarterback] Christian Ponder."
Frazier said Ponder was the first person to congratulate Kalil after he signed. Frazier said the QB and the LT rode down to Mankato together.
Here is the Vikings' release:
Tackle Matt Kalil becomes the final member of a 10-member 2012 draft class to sign with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings selected Kalil with the 4th choice in the 1st round after making a trade with the Cleveland Browns. The Southern California product was the highest offensive line-man selected in the 2012 Draft and became the 2nd-highest drafted offensive lineman in Vikings history behind Hall of Famer and fellow USC Trojan OT Ron Yary, who went No. 1 overall in 1968.
Percy Harvin was the first player to arrive at Winter Park as the team reopened for business on Tuesday morning.
So far about 15 players have been seen entering the facility -- or tweeted they were in the facility by 10:45.
Harvin and cornerback Cedric Griffin, coming off a knee injury, already have come and gone.
Quarterback Christian Ponder tweeted that he was on his way to Winter Park. Although Ponder has yet to sign, he is allowed to voluntarily show up.
Other players at Winter Park were Rhett Bomar, Everson Griffen, John Sullivan, Jaymar Johnson, Jim Kleinsasser, Toby Gerhart, Kyle Rudolph, E.J. Henderson, Chris DeGeare and Brian Robison.
The Vikings, meanwhile, are busy working the phones at Winter Park as teams are allowed to begin speaking to, but not signing, veteran free agents today.
They have also signed undrafted free agents today but likely won't release that list until all those signings are complete. They could also attempt to sign Ponder and other draft picks today.
There already have been several reports, tweets and even Facebook messages about undrafted rookies who have agreed to terms with the Vikings. This (unofficial) list includes wide receivers Andre Holmes of Hillsdale College and Dominique Johnson of Cal Poly; running backs Matt Asiata of Utah and Derrick Locke of Kentucky; tight end Allen Reisner of Iowa; kicker Nate Whitaker of Stanford; guard Conan Amituanai of Arizona; linebacker Larry Dean of Valdosta State; and defensive back Devon Torrence of Ohio State.
Vikings not on list of Hasselbeck suitors: Sounds as if you can cross Matt Hasselbeck off the list of potential Vikings quarterbacks. According to Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times, the list of teams in play for Hasselbeck are Seattle (his current club), Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee and Miami.
Meanwhile Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald, reports that free agent quarterback Tyler Thigen has his eyes on the Vikings, Tennessee, Buffalo, Seattle and Arizona. Thigpen was a seventh-round pick of the Vikings in 2007 but was lost on waivers to Kansas City coming out of training camp.
Kennedy out: Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy tweeted that he was not returning. His tweet: Viking fans, Thank you for accepting me as your own, but Im sorry to imform you I AM NO LONGER With the Team.
The Vikings, in a surprise, took Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder with the 12th overall pick in the draft.
Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert were all gone by the time the Vikings went on the board.
Here was the report we ran in last Sunday's paper in a feature on quarterbacks.
Christian Ponder, Florida State
Upside: Another intelligent player — he earned his undergraduate degree in 2½ years — with good intangibles. Showed his toughness last season by playing despite a bruised triceps, a ruptured right bursa sac and a concussion.
Downside: Suffered a Grade-3 separation of his throwing (right) shoulder and underwent season-ending surgery nine games into the 2009 season. Also has a tendency to make curious decisions at times.
Statistically: Completed 184 of 299 passes
(61.5 percent) for 2,044 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 12 games as a senior.
Getting to know you: A day before working out Newton, the Vikings brass made a stop in Tallahassee to put Ponder through a private session. He is considered a very good fit for a West Coast offense, but it is still not known how much of that system new Vikings coordinator Bill Musgrave will retain.
We'll have more on the choice and team reaction after a quick press conference with coach Leslie Frazier and VP Rick Spielman.
At the end of the most trying week of his four-plus years as Vikings coach, Brad Childress was asked Friday if he would handle things differently if given another chance.
"I don't know," Childress said. "That's conjecture. I'm looking forward. I'm looking forward."
That's probably a good idea given what has happened. ESPN reported today that owner Zygi Wilf was so mad about Childress' decision to not alert ownership before he decided to waive Randy Moss on Monday that he considered keeping Moss and firing the head coach. (It's not clear if Moss would have even gone along with that scenario.)
That is why Moss did not go on waivers until 3 p.m. Tuesday.
That is consistent with what we've heard, which is that until the Vikings issued a statement Monday night saying they were parting company with Moss that Childress was on very shaky ground. In fact, Vikings assistant coaches worried into Tuesday afternoon that Childress could be let go by Wilf.
That did not happen but Wilf has spent plenty of time at Winter Park this week getting an idea of how people feel about Childress and whether the season can be turned around after a 2-5 start.
The Vikings will try to begin the process of righting things on Sunday against Arizona.
Unfortunately, we can't tell you exactly what Wilf thinks about all this. He has turned down repeated requests for interviews and a team spokesman said the owner does not plan to talk to media on Sunday.
MANKATO -- The bus carrying the Vikings rookies arrived in front of Julia A, Sears Residence Hall this afternoon but Toby Gerhart wasn't on it.
The second-round pick is the only one of the Vikings eight selections from last April's draft who has yet to come to terms and judging from what I've been hearing today about negotiations it wouldn't be surprising if something doesn't get done until Friday at the earliest. The Vikings' first practice isn't until 4 p.m. Friday so Gerhart certainly still has some time to get the deal done before he misses anything of real importance.
"He needs to get his tail signed,” Coach Brad Childress told Sirius NFL Radio. “He needs to get down here and not miss a snap.”
Meanwhile, we just got back from standing in front of the dorm for three hours and saw several players arrive, including Kevin and Pat Williams, Steve Hutchinson, Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson, Jared Allen and Ben Leber.
Pat Williams said he had lost 18 pounds during the offseason and is now down to 324 pounds. Williams, who is entering the final season of his contract, actually looks like he dropped far more than 18 pounds. "I just want to feel good this year," Williams said. Williams had elbow surgery after the season and said he is fine.
Veteran players also continued to make it clear they are fine with the fact that Brett Favre is going to skip training camp and likely arrive in the middle of August. This is consistent with what they said at the end of last season. These guys know Favre gives them the best chance to win.
"We all know the situation and that's that there is going to be some time before we know the ultimate outcome of whether or not Brett's going to be back," center John Sullivan said when asked about the situation. "But we'll go out there, we'll work with the guys we have and for right now those are the guys that we'll focus on, proceed as if one of them will be your starting quarterback because they are the guys that are here, and if that situation changes you deal with it when the time comes."
Finally, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson said he met with Childress on Wednesday and is hoping he's allowed to start training camp on the field and not on the physically unable to perform list. Henderson is coming off a broken femur last December that some feared might end his career but he appears to have made a very nice recovery.
"Of course the decision [about the PUP] is his," Henderson said of Childress. "Hopefully we’re leaning toward starting off slow and gradually increase the work that I’ll do. That’s what I would like. It’s up to him and the trainers what we do."
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