There are few things in this world that warrant as a level of enthusiasm on par with a Minnesota Vikings offseason under head coach Brad Childress. Maybe having a tooth pulled without Novacaine, or having your head stomped on with spiked cleats. But even those lovely activities probably can't match the sheer pain caused by a Vikes' free agency period. Last year, the team's big acquisitions were Visanthe Shiancoe, a former backup tight end with the Giants who ended up being entirely worthless, and Bobby Wade, a slot receiver from the Titans. I could barely contain my excitement. This year, Childress is at again with his crazy hijinx.
Last season the Vikings did two things well: run the ball, and stop the opposing team from running the ball. Everything else, they basically sucked at. The ranked 28th in the NFL in passing offense, and dead last in pass defense. As such, it makes sense that the team would seek to improve in these areas during the offseason.
Step one: replace departed safety Dwight Smith with a quality player who actually gives a damn. The Vikings' solution here was to sign Madieu Williams, apparently trying to maintain the team's "Williams quota" after the departure of Tank Williams. Some analysts say that Madieu is a good, hard-hitting safety and a solid acquisition for the Vikings, but let's look at the facts: Williams played last year for a Cincinnati secondary that was fairly awful in its own right (26th in the NFL) and the Bengals made no effort to maintain him despite the fact that he is only 26 years old and they had no obvious replacement waiting in the wings. Last year in Cincy, Williams collected two interceptions and was credited with seven passes defended. Dwight Smith last year intercepted four passes and defensed nine with the Vikes. Looks like a big upgrade for the pass D there.
Step two: find a competent receiver to replace Troy Williamson, who was quite possibly the single worst draft pick in the history of American sports. Here the Vikings signed Bernard Berrian from the Bears. Now, let's be fair here -- Berrian is a pretty decent receiver, and I have no problem paying him a few million bucks a year to slightly improve the Vikings' receiving corps. Unfortunately, the Vikes saw fit to sign Berrian to a six-year deal that makes him the fourth-highest paid receiver in the NFL. Here's all we need to know about the Berrian signing:
Bernard Berrian, 2007 stats: 71 rec, 951 yds, 5 TD
Berrian's contract w/ Vikes: 6 yrs, $42M ($16M guaranteed)
Randy Moss, 2007 stats: 98 rec, 1493 yds, 23 TD
Moss' contract w/ Pats: 3 yrs, $27M ($15M guaranteed)
In the world of logic and reason, these moves might not make sense. But in that big, bald, arrogant head of Brad Childress, they make all the sense in the world.