Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
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.
Rick Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel, did an in-studio interview with KFAN's Paul Allen on Thursday morning and touched on a number of subjects.
Spielman said the personnel department and coaching staff conducted 93 interviews at the Senior Bowl recently as part of their evaluation process in preparation for the draft. Here are some of the highlights from Spielman's interview.
The Vikings have interest in signing CFL sacks leader Phillip Hunt but that doesn't mean a deal is going to get done.
Among the factors for the defensive end is the threat of an NFL work stoppage. Hunt led the CFL with 16 sacks this past season and does not want to put himself in a position where he signs a deal but then doesn't get paid when the season begins because of a lockout. At this point, a lockout stands to start in early March.
"I want a signing bonus worth enough that me and my family could live off it for the season just in case the NFL goes into a lockout or if things don't pan out and I come back to the CFL during the season," Hunt told the Winnipeg Free Press. "I want to have enough so that my family has some stability. The Bombers are a great safety net for me right now but I can't see myself putting that in jeopardy for an NFL tryout without a signing bonus.
He drew interest from many teams but signed a four-year, $4.9 million deal that included a $1 million signing bonus with the Dolphins in January 2009. Wake, who has moved to outside linebacker in the NFL, had 5.5 sacks in 2009 with the Dolphins but finished third in the NFL this season with 14.
The Vikings likely will need to add depth at defensive end with Ray Edwards and Brian Robison potentially headed for unrestricted free agency, depending on what happens with the collective bargaining agreement.
Asked about the 6-foot-1, 248-pound Hunt at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told Viking Update: “We liked his burst and the way he gets off the football. As you know, one of the things that we’re trying to find all the time is pass rushers. He showed a propensity to be able to do that. Not that he’ll be – everybody wants to compare the Canadian guys to Cameron Wake -- but he has some qualities that we think really fit our scheme."
The Vikings have been approached by two different groups in Los Angeles that are looking for an NFL team to relocate to the city, according to Vikings vice president of public affairs Lester Bagley.
Bagley revealed this information on Tuesday during a chat he conducted on the Vikings website that focused on the team's attempt to get a new stadium approved during the 2011 legislative session.
"We have been approached by two different groups in Los Angeles - the Ed Roski group and more recently by former Timberwolves CEO Tim Leiweke and AEG," Bagley wrote in response to a question. "In 2009 when the NFL had an owners' meeting in southern California, Mr. Wilf and Vikings management toured LA Live to try to get ideas on building a similar sports/entertainment district in Minnesota.
"Clearly, the Vikings stadium issue is being followed nationally and it's no secret that we're down to the last year on our lease. We've told those groups that we are focused on resolving the issue in Minnesota. We feel solid momentum and feel we're well-positioned with the new legislature and governor. Instead of spending energy speculating on other markets, let's keep the focus on building a world-class facility for the community and the State of Minnesota."
While the Vikings have long said their desire is to build a stadium on the site of the Metrodome, Bagley said the team is "completing our due diligence on a number of potential stadium sites," including "some in Minneapolis and one suburban site."
Wrote Bagley: "No conclusions have been reached and we're working to bring forward a package with a single site as soon as our work is completed and as soon as the new legislature and the new governor are ready." If a new stadium is approved, the Vikings are prepared to sign a lease that requires the team to play its games in that facility until 2045.
Finally, the Vikings made their first comments (that I can recall) on the soon-to-expire collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the league's players association. The CBA expires on March 4 and there could be a lockout at that point if a new agreement isn't in place.
"We are confident that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be reached," Bagley wrote. "The NFL has experienced labor peace since 1987 - longer than any other professional sport. The CBA negotiation is a short-term matter, while we are seeking a long-term solution to build a publicly owned facility that will benefit Minnesota for the next several decades. Let's not delay the work that needs to be done, as the CBA issue will be resolved."
The Vikings fired coach Brad Childress on Monday morning and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will take over as the interim coach.
Childress was fired a day after the Vikings' 31-3 loss to arch-rival Green Bay dropped them to 3-7 on the season. That came a year after the Vikings went 12-4 and made a run to the NFC title game.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and Frazier will address the media at 3 p.m. Monday at Winter Park.
The Vikings confirmed the news in a press release.
Running back Adrian Peterson was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Tuesday after rushing for 160 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns in the Vikings' 24-10 victory over Detroit last Sunday. Peterson also had five receptions for 30 yards.
It is the fourth time in his three-plus NFL seasons that Peterson has earned the award.
Peterson's performance included a career-long 80-yard touchdown run, which ranks as the longest run by a Viking at Mall of America Field and is tied for the fourth-longest run in franchise history. It was Peterson's 21st career 100-yard game and 10th career run of 50-plus yards. Both are second in team history behind Robert Smith's 29 and 12, respectively.
Vikings look at four
The Vikings worked out four players on Tuesday, including two offensive linemen and two kickers.
The offensive linemen were tackles Scott Kooistra (North Carolina State) and guard Donald Thomas (Connecticut). Kooistra, a seventh-round selection by the Bengals in 2003, also has spent time with the Browns. Thomas was a sixth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2008.
The kickers were Hunter Lawrence (Texas) and Swayze Waters (Alabama-Birmingham). Lawrence went to training camp with Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent but was waived. Waters had most recently been with Oakland.
It's common practice for the Vikings to look at street free agents during the week in order to get a first-hand look at them.
Pat doesn't hold back
Ask Pat Williams a question and you are likely to get an interesting answer. That was the case Monday when the Vikings nose tackle appeared on Sirius NFL Radio.
Williams was asked about the pushing and shoving that took place during Sunday's game.
"They were trying to play us tough," Williams said of Detroit. "They basically tried to cheap-shot us. They use hands to the face and were pulling us down." Williams also added, "I hate when guys act tough when they ain't tough."
The Vikings and Lions will meet again on Jan. 2 at Ford Field.
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