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.
Chris Kluwe, who holds several Vikings punting records but was more noted for the controversy surrounding his final season, said he will sign with the Oakland Raiders today.
The news was broken by former Baltimore Raven running back Brendon Ayanbedejo, who writes for foxsports.com.
Both Ayanbedejo and Kluwe were outspoken in their support for same-sex marriage during the past season.
Kluwe also championed the cause of former Raiders punter Ray Guy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and was fined by the league for wearing a patch stating that support.
The Raiders lost All-Pro punter Shane Lechler, who signed with Houston during the offseason. Kluwe was released by the Vikings after they drafted UCLA's Jeff Locke. Kluwe said he will get a one-year contract with Oakland for the league minimum.
“I’m excited to be an Oakland Raider and be playing in California," Kluwe, who also punted at UCLA, told Ayanbedejo. “Now, my family can actually come to games.”
Kluwe, 31, holds the Vikings record for average yards per punt in a career (44.4). He said the Cleveland Browns were also interested in signing him.
The Vikings signed three more draft picks Wednesday.
The Vikings signed three draft picks -- linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, and defensive tackle Everett Dawkins -- today.
Hodges was a fourth-round selection (120th overall), while Mauti (213th) and Dawkins (229th) were seventh rounders. Hodges and Mauti are from Penn State, while Dawkins played at Florida State.
The signings were announced by the team. Hodges posted his signing on Twitter. He called it the happiest moment of his life.
A video review of the Vikings picks, if you have a little time to watch, is here. Sid also broke down the Penn State linebackers here. (Just wanted to use "Sid broke down" in the context of Sid breaking down film. Not sure that line worked.)
Other Vikings notes:
Michael Sneed, who apparently is quite comfortable referring to herself in the third person, wrote: Sneed hears that former Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher, whose stellar, longtime career with the Bears began with a growl and ended with a whimper, is getting close to finding a new pigskin playground. Sneed is told that Urlacher, whose decision to leave the Bears followed their offer of a $1.6 million renewal contract, has been talking to the Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos. “It’s getting close to happening, but Brian is leaning toward heading to Minnesota and is talking a one to two year contract,” said a source close to Urlacher.
As they used to say on Hee Haw, we don't like to repeat rumors ... so you better listen closely the first time.
The Vikings made the biggest splash on the first night of the NFL Draft, landing defensive help with their own picks and then making a shocking trade to pick up a wide receiver.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd of Florida was taken at No. 23, cornerback Xavier Rhodes of Florida State was taken at No. 25, and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee was landed at No. 29.
Still, the circus isn't coming to town. The Vikings, in desperate need of a middle linebacker and completely in love with Notre Dame, opted not to take Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te'o, who you might have heard, was entangled in a bit of an embarrassing internet girlfriend hoax.
The Vikings had to trade both their Friday picks, the second and third rounders, in the Patterson deal. They also sent a fourth and seventh to New England for the talented, but troubled, wideout.
Floyd, who is 6-2 1/2, 305 pounds, can play nose tackle this year and move to under tackle next year, when Kevin Williams is expected to be done as a Viking. Williams turns 33 this August and will make a guaranteed $4.9 million in the final year of his restructured contract.
Floyd is the first defensive linemen taken by the Vikings in the first round since Williams was taken ninth overall in 2003. Floyd also is the first defensive tackle taken above the fourth round since Williams was taken 10 years ago.
Vikings GM Rick Spielman didn't wait long to replace Antoine Winfield, taking Rhodes two picks later. A big corner who some thought would go earlier seems like a decent pick that should start or at least be among the top three corners.
Spielman was holding a news conference to discuss the team's first two first-rounders when he sprinted out of the room and the trade with New England was announced a short time later.
Patterson addresses another big need after the team traded star Percy Harvin to Seattle in the offseason. He will give quarterback Christian Ponder the big, outside receiver he's been missing
The Vikings signed guard Seth Olsen, who played the past two seasons for Indianapolis.
Olsen (@SethOlsen) tweeted the news this afternoon and the team later confirmed it in a release.
Olsen, drafted by Denver in the fourth round in 2009 out of Iowa, was cut by the Broncos after one season. He was on the Vikings practice squad in 2010. The Colts claimed him off waivers at the start of the 2011 regular season.
Olsen, 6-5 and 305 pounds, was born in Willmar, but played high school football in Omaha. The 27-year-old started five games over the past two seasons with the Colts, but was hampered by a knee injury.
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