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Updated: July 29th, 2011 12:49am
Notebook: Vikings examining their WR options; red flag on Ray Edwards?

Notebook: Vikings examining their WR options; red flag on Ray Edwards?

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A day after losing Sidney Rice to a big deal in Seattle, the Minnesota Vikings were linked to negotiations with the three best young receivers left on the free-agent market.

Multiple reports had them in discussions with the New York Jets' Braylon Edwards, Green Bay's James Jones and San Diego's Malcom Floyd, and they reportedly were close to a deal with Jones at one point Thursday morning.

But there were no signs any deal was done with anyone late Thursday night, leaving questions swirling about a position significantly weakened by Rice's imminent departure.

"I don't know if they'll find an equal-to type," an NFL personnel director said. "But (Edwards) will be out there if they're willing to go down that road."

The Jets all but gave up on re-signing Edwards, 28, when they handed teammate Santonio Holmes a reported five-year, $50 million deal -- one of several big contracts handed out to top receivers within 48 hours of free-agent negotiations beginning on Tuesday.

Rice, Steve Breaston and Lance Moore also got paid, leaving Edwards (6-foot-3, 214 pounds) as the most accomplished receiver available, not including the aging likes of Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss.

The question with Edwards never has been talent. He's coming off his most productive season (53 catches, 904 yards, career-high 17.1 average, seven touchdowns) since his Pro Bowl year in Cleveland. In terms of what he brings on the field, Edwards would fit the Rice mold as well as anyone.

"They're alike, to be honest," the personnel director said. "Sidney may have a little more distance with his hands, but they're a little like each other. He'd be the first that would come to mind."

But Edwards also has a history of inconsistent play on the field and making bad decisions off of it. His received probation in January 2010 for punching a friend of basketball star LeBron James outside of a Cleveland nightclub and pleaded guilty last week to a drunk-driving charge that could trigger an NFL suspension.

Jones, 27, may be the safest bet in the bunch. The 6-1, 208-pound California native is coming off the best of his four NFL seasons (50 catches, 679 yards, five touchdowns) with the Packers but isn't the sort of big target the Vikings lost with Rice.

Floyd is the tallest of the group (6-5, 225) but also the oldest (30 in September) and never has registered more than 45 catches in parts of seven seasons with the Chargers.

Though the Vikings have a premier slot threat in Percy Harvin, they need significant help on the outside. The only experienced player there is Bernard Berrian, who wasn't one of three players the Vikings released on Thursday but has a cap number ($6,258,333) that could put him on the chopping block once an alternative is secured.

Rice is expected to take a physical in Seattle on Friday to clear his surgically repaired hip before the deal becomes final.

Slim pickings

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the Falcons have renewed their interest in free-agent end Ray Edwards, who has received an unexpectedly lukewarm reception on the open market.

Three high-ranking sources in personnel departments for different NFL teams said the Vikings' lack of interest in giving Edwards a long-term deal is a red flag, since rising 26-year-old starters at any position rarely walk without a fight. Teams are doing extra due diligence to find out if he's a hard worker in practice, liked in locker room and reliable off the field.

One executive for a team that plays a 3-4 defense said he is taking a closer look at Edwards now, too, just in case a bargain emerges with a good athlete who could prove versatile enough to become a standup edge rusher.

Quick hits

• Multiple reports said the Vikings were among the teams who pursued New Orleans LT Jermon Bushrod before he re-signed with the Saints. It was unclear whether the Vikings viewed Bushrod as an immediate replacement for 31-year-old Bryant McKinnie, who is due $750,000 in bonuses on top of his $4.9 million base salary this season.

• The Vikings also reportedly showed interest in S Danieal Manning, who signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Houston Texans that included $9 million guaranteed.

• The Vikings again did not announce their trade for QB Donovan McNabb on Thursday, perhaps in part because the restructured contract McNabb accepted to complete the deal can't be signed until 5 p.m. Friday.

• Two days after his agent said he was undecided, LB Erin Henderson told the Pioneer Press he intends to sign his restricted free-agent tender on Friday. "Wanted to sign it a long time ago," Henderson said. The agent for the Vikings' only other restricted free agent, S Husain Abdullah, said on Tuesday his client plans to sign, too.

• As of Thursday afternoon, it appeared the Vikings had not opened negotiations with any of their 10 draft picks. That was expected to change as soon as Friday morning to get everyone into camp before practice begins on Monday.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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