GM says Vikings not interested in signing Moss

The Minnesota Vikings need wide receivers.

Just not Randy Moss.

Given the trouble he caused during his second stint with the

team, a memorable month in the 2010 season, the disinterest in

bringing back one of the most popular players among Vikings fans in

franchise history comes as no surprise.

But general manager Rick Spielman confirmed Thursday the Vikings

”will be moving on” without Moss. The 35-year-old Moss didn’t

play last season, but he announced this week he plans to return to

the NFL, assuming a team will have him.

”Randy was a great player,” Spielman said, ”but again our

focus is more on trying to get a young team.”

That leaves the rest of the unrestricted free agent market,

which opens March 13, and the draft, held April 26-28. Spielman

said he sees a rich, deep talent pool in both areas. However

they’re acquired, the Vikings need more big-play threats at the

skill positions to help quarterback Christian Ponder and supplement

wide receiver Percy Harvin, tight end Kyle Rudolph and, assuming

he’s healthy again, running back Adrian Peterson.

”To give Christian the best chance at success is to get him

around as many playmakers as we can on offense,” Spielman

said.

There are plenty of other needs, at cornerback, safety, left

tackle and nose tackle, for starters, and the Vikings are clearly

in better position to address those through the draft for the sake

of long-term development. They’re counting on 10 picks, including

compensatory selections for lost free agents last year, starting

with the third overall slot.

Spielman said he counted contract extensions in the past six

months for Peterson, linebacker Chad Greenway, center John Sullivan

and long snapper Cullen Loeffler as free-agent signings, one hint

that the Vikings won’t be active on the open market. All of those

players would’ve been free agents next month. But Spielman, who

ascended to general manager in January after serving as vice

president of player personnel, said the team won’t rule out a major

signing.

”Whether we make a big splash or not, if there’s someone out

there we think can help us then we’re willing to spend a lot of

money. We’ll definitely look at those options,” Spielman said.

With 16 players from last year’s team eligible for unrestricted

free agency, the Vikings will have plenty of roster space. They’re

almost certain to create more openings by cutting a few veterans

still under contract, both for salary cap relief and the youth

movement they’ve begun. Cornerback Cedric Griffin, right guard

Anthony Herrera and left guard Steve Hutchinson are candidates

given their age and salary. They could also be asked to restructure

their deals in order to stay. Griffin has three years remaining on

his contract, and Herrera and Hutchinson have one.

”Sometimes, when you move on from guys, it has nothing to do

with their character and what they brought to the team. Sometimes,

you just have to make some tough business decisions,” he said.

On other subjects:

– Peterson’s rehabilitation is proceeding as planned. ”We’ve

been very pleased,” Spielman said. Peterson is in Houston and will

make occasional trips to Minnesota this year. Vikings athletic

trainer Eric Sugarman speaks daily with Peterson’s physical

therapist. Spielman said Peterson is on track to being ”extremely

close to being ready” for the start of the season.

– Spielman said the Vikings are ”very, very confident” in

Ponder but added if they determine one of the available

quarterbacks in the draft is ”too good to pass up” they’ll have

to weigh that option. The Vikings are sure to field several trade

offers for the No. 3 pick. Spielman said he and his staff will use

a ”full monty” approach to evaluating every prospect, even

expected No. 1 selection Andrew Luck, because he doesn’t want to be

”under-prepared.”

– Sage Rosenfels will be considered among other veteran backups

for the No. 3 spot behind Ponder and Joe Webb. Spielman also said

the Vikings could go with only two quarterbacks on the active

roster, with a developmental player on the practice squad.

– Cornerback Chris Cook’s felony assault trial is set to start

March 5. Spielman said he’s spoken to Cook since his arrest in

October and believes he has grown and matured from the situation,

an alleged choking of his girlfriend during an argument. Spielman

declined to speculate on Cook’s roster status without resolution

from the court, but said, ”You can never have enough good

corners.”

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