StarTribune.com

February 2008


Justin Smith watch continues

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Still awaiting word on whether Justin Smith is going to get out of San Francisco tonight and make a visit to Minnesota on Saturday. Meanwhile, let’s review a busy first day of free agency for the Vikings.

– Safety Madieu Williams received a six-year, $33 million contract that guarantees nearly $13 million. That means Williams, who had been with Cincinnati, will be among the elite safeties when it comes to pay. It will be interesting to see if he plays like an elite guy. Williams will be introduced by the Vikings during a Saturday morning news conference.

– Fullback Thomas Tapeh, the former St. Paul Johnson and Gophers standout, received a six-year contract that could pay him $6 million and guarantees $1.2 million. Coach Brad Childress talked about the fact he thinks Tapeh has good hands but make no mistake about it, Tapeh was signed to block for Adrian Peterson (and Chester Taylor) and also probably to play on special teams. Tapeh’s signing officially ends Tony Richardson’s tenure with the Vikings after two seasons. Richardson was a class act.

– Receiver Bernard Berrian was in town today to visit with the Vikings and he’s expected to get a big offer to leave Chicago. Oakland and Tennessee also would like a chance to talk to Berrian. There were rumors in the late afternoon that Berrian already had left for Oakland but that turned out to be false.

– San Francisco kick return man Maurice Hicks is due at Winter Park for a visit that could occur as early as today. Hicks’ agent did not respond to messages to confirm his visit so I don’t know all the details.

– It was reported early on that running back Mewelde Moore was visiting with Tampa Bay on Friday. Turns out the Bucs are trying to bring in Moore for a visit but all indications were it did not happen Friday.

– One thought on the day: The Vikings have to be pleased with how today went and certainly if they can lock up Berrian that will make things even better. Many have questioned whether Berrian is a No. 1 receiver, but the fact of the matter is this is the guy the Vikings put at the top of their wish list when it came to free agents at this position. (There was rumored interest in Jerry Porter but he has signed with the Jaguars.) Part of the problem last year — when the Vikings made less than a splash in free agency – was that Minnesota had trouble getting guys to come to a team that had finished 6-10 and had a suspect offense. This time around it seems as if free agents are giving the Vikings a much longer look. An 8-8 finish and the presence of Adrian Peterson suddenly make Minnesota a much more attractive option.

Almost forgot: According to Rick Spielman, the Vikings will now have nine picks in the 2008 draft. This includes selections in every round, plus an extra pick in the third round (obtained from Denver in a draft-day trade last year) and sixth round (obtained from Jacksonville in the Troy Williamson trade). The Vikings could use one of the extra picks to get a quarterback or package some of picks to get a more favorable position on draft day. At this point, we know the Vikings will draft No. 17 overall in the first round. However, we don’t know the rest of the order yet.

 

Visits continue

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Bernard Berrian is meeting with the Vikings tonight and if everything goes according to Zygi Wilf’s plan Berrian will be wearing a Vikings cap at a news conference tomorrow. That’s if everything goes according to plan. If that does not happen, Berrian likely will head to Oakland to meet with the Raiders. The Vikings certainly don’t want that to happen.

Meanwhile as Vikings execs try to impress Berrian, the plan remains for Bengals defensive end Justin Smith to visit on Saturday. Smith is supposed to board a plane sometime this evening and head for Minnesota after visiting with the 49ers today.

Although he was not introduced at today’s news conference, the contract with safety Madieu Williams has been signed and the deal is done.

Update: We are hearing that Thomas Tapeh’s deal is worth $6 million over five years with just over $1 million in guaranteed cash.

Upate II: The Vikings have officially announced Williams has agreed to terms. He will be introduced at a news conference Saturday.

 

Just back …./UPDATED

Friday, February 29th, 2008

… from the Tapeh news conference. A few tidbits:

  • Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman confirmed that WR Bernard Berrian and S Madieu Williams are in town. Both are undergoing physicals. Williams has a deal that is expected to become official once he passes the physical — he has agreed to a six-year contract — and Berrian negotiations are likely taking place.
  • It sounds like Williams and Berrian will continue meeting with coaches and other staff members through Saturday, meaning that no formal announcement on either player’s signing is expected before then.
  • As the QB crop continued to dwindle — QB Josh McCown signed today with Miami — Spielman said the Vikings won’t stop exploring trade and free agency options for a backup. But he also noted the Vikings have nine draft choices in the 2008 draft and that they would not be disappointed if they ended up drafting for quarterback depth.
  • Tapeh, the St. Paul native and former Gophers tailback, said: “I left here a boy and came back a man.” He won bonus points from Access Vikings for teasing Sid incessantly. Tapeh was already scheduled to be in town this week for a charity gala thrown by the Barber family.
  • Vikings coach Brad Childress steered clear of saying anything about the Vikings’ decision to let go of FB Tony Richardson. It was interesting that Richardson and Tapeh were on the same flight from Philadelphia to the Midwest this week and got an opportunity to talk.

Press conference nears

Friday, February 29th, 2008

About to head into the 3 p.m. news conference where fullback Thomas Tapeh, and perhaps safety Madieu Williams, will be introduced as the newest members of the Minnesota Vikings. Right now, it’s scheduled to be Brad Childress and Tapeh at the presser. That could be because Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman is meeting with free-agent receiver Bernard Berrian and his representatives. It’s not 100 percent clear if Berrian is at Winter Park yet but that seems like a good possibility.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are still hoping to bring in Cincinnati free agent defensive end Justin Smith on Saturday. Smith’s first stop was today with the San Francisco 49ers and some think that organization will do everything in its power to make sure he signs.

We’ll have reaction from the press conference so check back.

 

Tapeh joins Vikings

Friday, February 29th, 2008

The Vikings website is reporting that fullback Thomas Tapeh has agreed to terms with the team. Tapeh played at St. Paul Johnson High School and also with the Gophers. He had been with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tapeh will be introduced to the media this afternoon at Winter Park.

A busy day at Winter Park

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Madieu Williams is on the way to town to sign a contract. Bernard Berrian is en route and will likely be presented with a substantial offer. And then there is former Gophers and St. Paul Johnson standout Thomas Tapeh, who also is set to visit today. We’ve confirmed that Tapeh definitely should be meeting with the Vikings at some point.

Brad Childress is familiar with the fullback having coached him with the Eagles. Tapeh, who is 6-1, 243 pounds, was a fifth-round choice of Philly in 2004. He not only would replace Tony Richardson as the lead blocker for Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor but also would be used on special teams. Tapeh will turn 28 years old on March 28.

 

 

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