The Vikings signed their first free-agent on Monday night when kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd agreed to a two-year contract.
Evidently the Vikings plan to carry two kickers on their roster next season, with Lloyd set to handle kickoffs and Ryan Longwell taking care of field goals and extra points. Longwell has been the Vikings kicker in all situations since he was signed as a free agent in 2006 shortly after Brad Childress became coach.
Lloyd, a former Gopher, passed on the chance to make a visit to the New York Giants on Tuesday when he decided to return to Minnesota. He had been with Carolina but the Panthers did not tender him an offer as a restricted free agent, enabling him to hit the market.
"I think he was excited about the organization," said Frank Murtha, who is Lloyd's agent. "He was excited about the opportunity. He had lived in Minneapolis and St. Paul for eight years and went to school at the University of Minnesota, so obviously he was familiar with the city and that sort of thing. He didn't have any bad choices [in terms of where to play] but the was impressed by the Vikings coaches and the organization. I think it was all positive. With that said, it was a difficult decision for him. It wasn't a slam dunk. The Giants have a quality organization."
Murtha said "it was a possibility, but not a probability," that Lloyd would have returned to the Panthers. This was Lloyd's first visit since he was cut loose by Carolina.
Asked about the Vikings' plans for Lloyd to handle kickoffs, Murtha said: "The organization made it clear that they were committed to carrying a kickoff specialist. I think that was made clear to Rhys and to me. Coach Childress and his staff and the organization were committed to that. They wanted to have the advantage that they had seen around the league either with the teams that have carried an extra guy or those that have someone in the organization whose kickoffs were beyond the norm. Rhys is capable of putting the ball in the end zone all of the time."
Murtha made it clear that Lloyd isn't going to be a "camp leg" -- someone who is used to kick field goals in training camp so Longwell doesn't get overworked.
"He would have had no interest in that," Murtha said. "They made that clear to him. There are a bunch of college guys out there that can go ahead and do that. The [Vikings] knew the Giants were very interested in him and the Giants remained competitive on the contract and its terms [until the end]."