Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Finally!

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.

12 comments:

vikinghooper said...

Vikesgeek,

And how!

I can't believe we have 2 NFL caliber corners at the same time.

Washington and Fuller in 97 were serviceable, and Fuller and Hitchcock were fair, but I think we are set.

The Vikes actually look like they're trying, and with 2 first round picks, this signing looks like the dawn before the sunrise.

I'll ease up a little when I kick Red's behind when he leaves.

I can't tell if the Moss propaganda has kicked in on me, but if his loss makes others play harder, I hope it works.

The question is wether the Vikes restructure a few contracts to reach the floor, spend to the floor, or spend to get what they need and reach the cap.

Feels better to be a fan today; just watched the 69 Rams Vikings playoff highlights to get a feel for good times.

Go Vikings!

Vikinghooper

Lichty said...

Whew. I thought that VG would find the black cloud in this signing, where I could find nothing but positives.

With a MLB this should be a respectable defense next year. EJ and Dontarrius can hopefully learn from some mental reps and special teams play.

Hopefully Udeze plays more consistently and Johnstone continues to produce as a rush end (I see a fall off for him this year though). There are still gaping holes, but they took a giant step toward filling them.

I feel much better with Brian Williams as a nickel back than as a starting corner.

It will tough for this secondary to produce still with the holes up front, but hopefully this shows that they are serious about improving.

Fran said...

*yawns*

Vikes Geek said...

Lichty,

Just looking for any shred of evidence that the Vikings are still in the game. This is at least moving in the right direction, but I am sure you will forgive my recent cynicism.

With that said, I offer at least a partial dark lining to this silver cloud. Apparently one of the conditions of the signing is that Smoot defer rights to his signing bonus until May/June. That means that Red probably would have been unwilling to sign off on this deal were Smoot to insist on his money up front.

The more things change....

VG

Vikes Geek said...

Fran,

Come on now. At least the news is positive.

VG

Vikes Geek said...

Hoop,

I'm with you. I only wish I had a Shaq-sized foot. Maybe my strong windup will compensate.

VG

Lichty said...

This is at least moving in the right direction, but I am sure you will forgive my recent cynicism.Believe me VG, I share your pessimism and cynacism, and couldn't find a downside to this signing. It was a signing that made too much sense and thus, I knew that I must be missing something. The Red Menace's delayed bonus game is now known by the agents so anyone coming to winter park henceforth has obviously taken that into consideration.

The approach they have taken (and at least coming to financial terms with signing Pierce despite the ham handed way of blowing it) does show that they are serious about improving this defense.

The question remains whether they will aggressively pursue Darius in J'ville or other interested FA's especially at MLB.

What names are still out there? Are there any other potential cap casualties?

Vikes Geek said...

Lichty,

The list of quality free agents has nearly evaporated--at least at this point. Edgerton Hartwell remains very available, however, which makes one wonder what is wrong with him. Why is the number one free agent linebacker still available? Why are the Vikings not meeting with him? Is Hartwell biding his time?

After June 1, several more free agents will become available as teams cut their salary cap fat.

I agree that the Vikings are at least doing something, but they really have no choice. They either spend the money on free agents to reach the salary floor or they forfeit the cash. Their fealty to building the defense only makes sense since they need defensive players and the vast majority of the quality free agents are defensive players (thus precluding the Vikings from acting upon any offensive temptations that they might have). With that said, the money the team gave to Jermaine Wiggins was money well spent.

VG

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