Cornerback Fred Smoot, the top coverage defender still remaining in the unrestricted free agent pool, has reached a contract agreement in principle with the Minnesota Vikings, a move that will further bolster a defense that statistically ranked 28th in the league overall during the 2004 season.
The four-year veteran cornerback, who had played his entire career with the Washington Redskins, is the second high-profile free agent acquired by the Vikings in the past week. Minnesota signed former Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Pat Williams last week
Trying to build through free agency makes me nervous, but the Vikes are making some very sound moves this offseason. They’re not overpaying for big veteran names, but are signing good young guys that have the potential to provide a sound defensive core. Even without Randy Moss, the Vikings should be able to be very competitive with an average defense, and if Smoot – who was arguably better than Champ Bailey in Washington two years ago – can overperform like Antoine Winfield did last year, the Vikes shouldn’t have too much trouble beating out Green Bay for the NFC North.
Have they improved enough to knock off Philadelphia? Not yet. But if someone teaches Mike Tice to run the ball instead of getting cute when playing running-challenged defenses, (or if Tice is brought down by his little ticket scalping operation), the potential is arguably there. I would have preferred to see them sign Derek Mason, but Rod Gardner would make for an excellent addition. Plaxico Burress is interesting, but too expensive considering his past underperformance. Then again, having a quarterback who can actually throw the ball might make a real difference for him.
I think Burress would be insane to go to the Giants, (having my doubts about the whinier of the two Mannings), and if he chooses a bigger payday over a playoff contender, then he’s probably not the sort of competitor you’d want in the first place. All in all, things aren’t looking too bad for the Purple and Gold.