Even for this franchise, the news was inevitable. With the Vikings milleniums under the NFL's mandatory salary floor, and with several holes to fill, the Vikings finally made a move that they needed to make; a move that most personnel people within the organization wanted to make; and a move that justice dictated that the franchise make. Finally!
On Tuesday, just before the closing bell on the NY stock exchange, the Vikings made their most legitimate and sure-to-be most profitable free agent signing since they plucked Cris Carter off the waiver wire several years ago. This time, rather than signing a key offensive player, however, the Vikings signed a key defensive player in the form of former Washington Redskin's cornerback Fred Smoot.
By signing Smoot, the Vikings filled an absolute chasm at cornerback, and can now legitimately claim to have not only two quality corners--with one being as near to a shut down corner as there is in the NFL today--but also can claim some depth at the position. The 25-year-old Smoot contributed 61 tackles and 3 interceptions to the 'Skins' cause last season and is considered a top-flight NFL corner. Despite his youth, he immediately becomes the Vikings' top cornerback.
The Vikings' new-found secondary depth, sure to be supplemented with the signing of a reasonable fascimile of a safety, will give the Vikings a rare opportunity to move former starters to nickle and dime packages--or to the bench or highway. All those options are dazzling compared to the options the Vikings faced prior to Smoot's signing.
Although I have lamented the Vikings' failure to sign a legitimate middle linebacker, this was one of the best free agents on the market. I still prefer building from the front on defense, but if you are going to break the bank on a corner, this is one the few corners that merits such consideration. Moreover, there remain other linebackers on the free agent market. And with the Vikings signing Smoot to a 6-year, $30 million deal with a $10 million signing bonus, the team is still somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million under the cap and must spend another $10 million or more to get to the league salary floor. Surely that will buy a respectable middle linebacker.
What Else the Smoot Signing Means
With Smoot's signing, the Vikings have all but ensured that their target with the number seven pick in this year's draft will be a wide receiver, assuming either Braylon Edwards or Mike Williams is available when they draft. The signing of a free agent linebacker would cement this assurance. Smoot's signing also virtually ensures that the Vikings can take the best available player with their second pick in the first round--assuming that they do not package that pick in a trade for Jacksonville safety Donovin Darius.
And, at least for one day, there is good news out of Winter Park.
Up Next: More Free Agency Discussion.