The Vikings released veteran quarterback Brad Johnson this afternoon, the team announced.
Johnson, benched with two games remaining in the season, asked for his release. Despite his frustration this past season, Johnson's decision not to publicly discuss his concerns earned him some respect from coach Brad Childress.
"Brad has been a true pro throughout his career and we wish him the best as he moves forward," Childress said in a statement. "Brad was an important part of the team and a guy who led by example on and off the field. He's a class act and a guy younger players could learn a lot from about what it takes to play in the NFL."
No other moves were announced, although several more are expected in the coming days.
Given the scarcity of starting jobs, Johnson likely will have to settle for a backup job. Several teams could be interested.
Falcons tender Schaub
The price for Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub has been set, and it's quite steep.
According to ESPNews, the Falcons tendered Schaub for $2.35 million, meaning any club that signs him away would have to give up a first- and third-round pick in return.
All in the family
A couple of weeks after hiring Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator, the San Diego Chargers today announced the signing of his son, tight end T.J. Cottrell.
The younger Cottrell spent a couple of summers in training camp with the Vikings but never made the regular-season roster.
Former Vikings assistant to Chargers
Former Vikings assistant secondary coach Kevin Ross is expected to reunite with Ted Cottrell in San Diego, the Union-Tribune reported today.
Ross is expected to be Cottrell's secondary coach.
Former assistant Ross to Chargers
Former Vikings assistant secondary coach Kevin Ross is expected to reunite with Ted Cottrell in San Diego, the Union-Tribune reported today.
Ross is expected to be Cottrell's secondary coach.
INDIANAPOLIS--Former Gophers running back Gary Russell saw his draft stock plummet Sunday, when he turned in times of 4.8 and 4.84 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine.
Russell, who had joked about not wanting to turn in a time like former Ohio State Maurice Clarett did a couple of years ago, did even worse. Clarett’s times were 4.72 and 4.82.
Note to self
INDIANAPOLIS--Be careful what you wish for.
For years, pro football writers have complained that, except for NFL Network, player workouts at the NFL scouting combine are closed to the media.
Well, this morning, yours truly was among two small groups of print media that were permitted to watch a portion of the passing drills involving quarterbacks and wide receivers.
While coaches, general managers and personnel men lounged in the stands, we spent close to an hour in an end-zone suite, watching passers and receivers play catch (with an occasional miss).
Think company picnic without the three-legged race.
Highlights of the early session were a pretty one-handed catch of a go route by Texas Tech wide receiver Jarrett Hicks and another nice diving grab by Central Arkansas’ Aaron Fairooz.
If either goes on to become the next Jerry Rice, remember you read it here first.
INDIANAPOLIS--St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan has heard the comparisons, but with no disrespect to LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, he’s no Daunte Culpepper. Not yet, anyway.
“JaMarcus is going to have to go to a couple Pro Bowls first to be compared to Daunte,” Linehan, the Vikings’ former offensive coordinator, said today.
Culpepper suffered through an injury-shortened first season in Miami after undergoing triple-ligament knee surgery in 2005, but Linehan warned not to count him out.
“I know with his injury, Daunte has kind of fallen off the map here lately, but you better not write him off,” he said. “That guy will be back.”
Linehan also said the Rams are still hoping to sign prospective free agent Kevin Curtis, who could be the top receiver in free agency if he hits the market.
“I’m just going to remain optimistic about it,” Linehan said, “but I also know it’s a business and we’re not going to be devastated if it doesn’t happen. We’ve got to have an alternative plan. We’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.”
In addition to being a high draft priority, wide receiver figures to be on the Vikings’ free-agent shopping list, with Travis Taylor expected to hit the market.
Vikes to interview Quinn
INDIANAPOLIS--Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn won’t work out at this week’s NFL scouting combine, but he is scheduled to interview with Vikings officials tonight.
Quinn, whom the Vikings have said they would consider taking with the seventh overall selection, said he would have no problem fitting in to coach Brad Childress’ West Coast offense.
“I think I’d be a good fit in any offense at this point in time,” he said.
Quinn said his goal is to be the first player taken in the draft, not just the first quarterback, and seemed irritated by reports that he could be slipping in the first round.
“No offense to everyone out there, but I try to stay out of reading all the articles and watching all the shows,” he said. “For those people who have said that, what’s been echoed to me, I mean, it’s kind of hard for a guy to slip at this time. I haven’t played a game in the past couple months so it’s funny to kind of sit back and hear some of that. You think, did I not lift today or do something wrong in the weight room? Miss a rep? I’m confused. It’s just funny, but it’s just one of those things you can use for motivation.”
Childress talks QB
INDIANAPOLIS--Vikings coach Brad Childress said today that the team would consider taking Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn with the seventh pick of the April 28-29 NFL draft but said that is no reflection on current quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger.
“No. 1, we’re going to let those two guys compete,” Childress said. “I have not named a starting quarterback right now. However, it doesn’t hurt anything to have a third guy there competing.”
Childress said he mentioned the possibility of adding a third quarterback to Jackson when they met at last month’s Senior Bowl and that last year’s second-round pick was fine with it.
As for Quinn, Childress said they’ll sit down for an interview at some point during this week’s NFL scouting combine.
“Obviously, he’s a good football player who played well for a long time,” Childress said.
--Childress said defensive end Erasmus James was in Denver recently for a follow-up procedure on the knee he had surgically repaired last season. Childress said James should be good to go for training camp but not minicamp.
--Childress had no comment on when or whether the Vikings might release cornerback Fred Smoot, quarterback Brad Johnson and some other veteran players but strongly indicated that safety Dwight Smith will not be let go.
“He’s the starter, as far as I’m concerned,” Childress said. “He gave a very good accounting of himself last season.”
Miami Dolphins coach Cam Cameron described Daunte Culpepper’s status as day-to-day but said the former Vikings quarterback is working hard to come back following an injury-shortened 2006 season.
“Is he 80 percent, 90 percent, 100 percent? I don’t know,” Cameron said. “I don’t think he knows yet. But I do know that he’s giving us 100 percent of his effort.”
Cameron said the Dolphins’ main priority is that Culpepper doesn’t try to come back too soon, as he did last season following triple-ligament knee surgery.
“Everything I see is positive,” Cameron said.
Browns win toss
The Cleveland Browns haven’t won many games since returning to the NFL, but they did win a coin toss this morning with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to determine which team will pick third in the April 28-29 NFL draft.
The Bucs will pick fourth, meaning the draft order to the Vikings goes as follows: 1. Oakland; 2. Detroit; 3. Cleveland; 4. Tampa Bay; 5. Arizona; 6. Washington; 7. Vikings.
Attending his first NFL scouting combine as a head coach, Mike Tomlin said today that he knows Leslie Frazier socially, but the Pittsburgh Steelers’ head man had no advice for his successor as Vikings defensive coordinator.
“Leslie’s got to be Leslie, just like I have to be myself,” Tomlin said. “I’m sure that he will. I’m sure he’ll do a great job. I’ll be there for him from a support standpoint if he needs it in any way, but I’m not going to try to tell a story in regards to what awaits him. He’s going to figure that out himself, I’m sure.”
Tomlin said that was the same guidance he got from Vikings coach Brad Childress.
“I got a bunch of advice from Brad,” Tomlin said. “I asked for most of it. Not only him but most of my mentors told me to be myself and trust my instincts so that’s what I’m doing.”
Tomlin said the transition from assistant to head coach has gone smoothly, the toughest part being having to move his family for the second time in two years.
As for the biggest difference between coming to this combine as a head coach, rather than an assistant …
“I’m here a lot longer,” he said. “No, it’s pretty much the same routine for me. I’m wire to wire whereas when I initially came in I was just looking at positions. Now I’m looking at everyone. The process is the same. I’m just looking at more players.”
Vikings fullback Jeff Dugan is one of 25 NFL players who will visit Harvard Business School next week to take part in an executive education program.
The NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program is part of an ongoing initiative by the league and the NFL Players Association to help athletes prepare for life after football.
The Vikings came to terms with the first of their six unrestricted free agents Tuesday, as safety Tank Williams agreed to a one-year contract.
Williams missed all last season after fracturing his left knee early in training camp. Linebacker Napoleon Harris, wide receiver Travis Taylor, wide receiver Bethel Johnson, guard Jason Whittle and defensive tackle Ross Kolodziej are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents March 2.
Kolodziej’s agent, Chris Murray, said today that the Vikings have told him they will allow the five-year veteran to hit the market.
Former Vikings quarterback Mike McMahon signed today with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
The Vikings signed McMahon to be their No. 2 quarterback last offseason but released him after he struggled during the preseason.
Back in the game
On the same day the San Diego Chargers named Norv Turner their head coach, they announced the hiring of Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator.
Cottrell served as the Vikings' defensive coordinator for the 2004-05 seasons and spent last season working in the league office.
Passing on Garcia?
ESPN’s John Clayton has ruled the Vikings out of the Jeff Garcia derby.
Echoing last week’s comments by coach Brad Childress, Clayton reports that the Vikings have indicated no interest in Garcia and tabbed Tampa Bay as Philadelphia’s main competition for the prospective free agent.
During a radio interview last week, Childress downplayed any interest in Garcia.
The media consensus in Houston is that quarterback David Carr has taken his last snap for the Texans, but that doesn’t mean a trade is imminent.
First, the Texans must create a trade market for Carr, who was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2002 NFL draft but might fetch no more than a fourth-round pick.
There’s also the matter of bringing in a replacement quarterback, which means Jake Plummer would have to be traded or released by the Denver Broncos.
Plummer is a favorite of Texans coach Gary Kubiak, his former offensive coordinator with the Broncos, but it could be mid-March or later before Houston clears up its quarterback situation.
Could there be a used Carr in the Vikings’ future?
The Houston Chronicle reported today that Texans general manager Rick Smith has heard from some teams regarding a trade for starting quarterback David Carr.
Smith refused to disclose which teams have called, but the Texans reportedly might be willing to accept as little as a fourth-round draft choice for Carr, 27, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2002 NFL draft.
The Texans paid $8 million last March to extend Carr’s contract for three years, but they are just 23-53 in five seasons in games he has played.
Vikings coach Brad Childress said at the end of the season that Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger would compete for the starting quarterback job in 2007, but that hasn’t stopped speculation that the team might bring in a veteran starter.
The NFL trading period begins March 2.
Cottrell to Chargers?
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that former Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell is a likely candidate to be the Chargers' next defensive coordinator, replacing Wade Phillips, who left to become head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Chargers also are looking for a head coach following Monday night's firing of Marty Schottenheimer.
Cottrell served as Vikings defensive coordinator from 2004-05 and spent last season working in the league office.
Vikings announce 2007 ticket prices
Two-thirds of all season ticket locations will have the same or lower prices, the Vikings announced this morning.
For the first time since 1998, there will not be a general price increase for all seats, and the increase at particular locations was up 1.8 to 4.5 percent.
"We greatly value our loyal season ticket owners and have worked very hard
throughout this decision-making process to maintain affordable options for our fans while balancing our business challenges," said Steve LaCroix, vice president of sales and marketing.
In 2007, the Vikings will have 11 pricing options for season tickets, an increase of eight from 2006, ranging from $99 (limited view) to $1,160 for a 10-game package. New, as a tribute to the Vikings' inaugural season of 1961, there will be over
4,000 upper level season tickets offered for $19.61 per seat per game.
"Our $196.10 season ticket will be one of the lowest-priced season tickets in the NFL," LaCroix said.
The Vikings have extended their consecutive sellout streak at the Metrodome to 94 consecutive games.
The 2007 home schedule features some exciting games. The Vikings will host the Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, although Randy Moss may not be on the team. And Brad Childress also will host his former NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles.
The other home games are against the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.
Frazier new defensive coordinator
The Vikings have hired Indianapolis Colts assistant Leslie Frazier to become the new defensive coordinator.
It is believed that Frazier received a three-year deal.
The Vikings waited more than two weeks to replace Mike Tomlin apparently to speak to Frazier, who arrived for an interview Wednesday afternoon.
On Jan. 30, at Super Bowl media day, Frazier told the Pioneer Press that he would be interested in the Vikings vacancy and added that the transition would be smooth, given his familiarity to the Tampa 2, which the Colts also run.
Frazier was the defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003 and 2004. His Bengals defense was tied for third in takeaways in 2004 with 36.
He joined the Colts in 2005 as a defensive assistant, and he was promoted to special assistant to the head coach and defensive backs coach for the 2006 season. He played a key role in the Colts' fielding the league's second-ranked pass defense.
"My goal is to one day be a head coach in the NFL, and one of those steps will probably be being a coordinator (again)," Frazier told the Pioneer Press on Jan. 30. "Hopefully, the right opportunity will come."
Frazier was on the same staff as Childress in Philadelphia from 1999 to 2002, serving as the defensive backs coach. As a player, Frazier was a cornerback out of Alcorn State, where he was an All-America. He played for the Chicago Bears from 1981 to 1986, starting during on the 1985 championship team and leading the team in interceptions.
Frazier will address the media today at a 2:30 press conference at Winter Park.
Ron English denies Sirius report
University of Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English couldn't have interviewed at Winter Park today; he was in Ann Arbor.
English issued a statement through Dave Ablauf, the Wolverines football media relations director, refuting a report on Sirius NFL Radio today that he was interviewing for the Vikings defensive coordinator vacancy.
"I have not had any contact with the Minnesota Vikings," English said in the statement, "and do not plan to leave Michigan."
Ron English interviewing for Vikings vacancy
University of Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English is interviewing for the Vikings vacancy today with coach Brad Childress, Adam Schein of Sirius NFL Radio reports.
English was the defensive coordinator of the Wolverines last season, and he was the secondary coach for two seasons before that.
He served as the secondary coach for the Seattle Seahawks in 2003.
Schein said that English is the front-runner for the job, if they can agree to a contract.
Last year, English agreed to become the Chicago Bears defensive backs coach, but backed out when Wolverines head coach Lloyd Carr offered him the defensive coordinator position. English is thought to be a potential replacement for Carr at Michigan.
The timing of this is curious since National Signing Day is Wednesday.
For instance, several high-profile high school students already have verbally committed to Michigan.
In fact, Boubacar Cissoko, a junior at Detroit's Cass Tech High School, mentioned English by name in a recent report.
"Ron English said I could come in and have a chance to start," Cissoko told the Ann Arbor News. "I want a chance to play."
Rivera an outside candidate?
The Super Bowl is finally over, which means the Vikings may step up the effort to find a defensive coordinator.
The Vikings have two in-house candidates, linebackers coach Fred Pagac and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar. But the Vikings quiet search to replace Mike Tomlin, now the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, would indicate that the club will interview assistants from the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts.
The plum could be Ron Rivera, the Bears defensive coordinator. His contract is up, and he is considered an outside candidate for the Dallas Cowboys head coaching vacancy.
Why would Rivera leave the Bears?
Because the Vikings would be willing to cough up the cash.
The Bears have one of the lowest-paid coaching staffs, and they are led by Lovie Smith, who makes a league-low $1.35 million. The Vikings paid Tomlin around $800,000 a year, so they obviously have no qualms about paying a premium for a talented coach.
Meanwhile, assistant head coach/ linebackers coach Bob Babich made clear last week to the Pioneer Press that he wasn't interested in the Vikings job.
The only other candidate on the Bears would be Steven Wilks, the defensive backs coach. But he just wrapped up his first year as an NFL assistant, which means his experience appears questionable for such a major job.
As for the Colts, special assistant to the head coach Leslie Frazier said he would be interested in the Vikings job. Since it remains open, Frazier is expected to get an interview, and he played a key role in the Colts' second-ranked pass defense.
The other possibilities from the Colts are defensive backs coach Alan Williams and defensive line coach John Teerlinck, who has a link to Vikings coach Brad Childress.
Teerlink and Childress were on the same staff at the University of Illinois from 1980 to 1982, and he was a Vikings assistant from 1992 to 1994.
The Super Bowl champion Colts, though, returned to Indianapolis Monday and participated in a parade.
Wyatt hired by University of Arizona
The University of Arizona has hired former Vikings receivers coach Darrell Wyatt in the same capacity, the Tucson Citizen reported today.
"His ability to work with receivers will really help the development of our new offense," Arizona coach Mike Stoops said in a statement.
Wyatt replaces Charlie Williams, who quit after the season to take a position at North Carolina.
"I'm looking forward to working with Coach Stoops and (offensive coordinator Sonny) Dykes to take Arizona's offense to another level," Wyatt said in a statement. "I've seen tape of the returning players and feel we have some good receivers who will work well in our new plans."