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.