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Updated: March 5th, 2012 3:47pm
Notebook: Vikings officials to finalize roster decisions on Saturday

Notebook: Vikings officials to finalize roster decisions on Saturday

by Tom Pelissero
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings officials met with ownership as scheduled on Friday to discuss their plan for free agency, but several potential moves with the existing roster won't be finalized until another meeting on Saturday, three days before the market opens.

General manager Rick Spielman and assistant GM George Paton were among roughly 10 members of the Vikings' scouting and coaching staff who attended the University of Minnesota's pro day workout on Monday.

Spielman was scheduled to leave on Monday night, spend of the rest of the week attending workouts and then return in advance of free agency launching on March 13.

"We're done," Spielman said of the team's free-agent evaluations. "Everybody's just sitting and waiting for the 13th. There's not much more you can do. We were done before we went down to the combine, and now, we're focused on this week, getting out there and doing the pro days and see where we're at when we get back."

The Vikings are expected to be a little more than $10 million under their adjusted 2012 salary cap, although as of Monday morning teams still hadn't received confirmation on whether the cap indeed will remain flat at around $120.4 million.

If they cut or restructure some combination of cornerback Cedric Griffin and guards Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera -- all moves likely to be discussed again on Saturday -- the Vikings' cap space could more than double.

However, several potential free-agent targets were removed from the market on Monday. At the receiver position alone, Stevie Johnson re-signed with Buffalo and Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City) and Wes Welker (New England) each received the franchise tag.

"If there's a guy there that we covet," the Vikings will be active, Spielman said. "Otherwise, we'll probably be patient. So, we'll see how it shakes out. I know there's a lot of franchise tags going out there door."

Several other top receivers -- Vincent Jackson (San Diego), Marques Colston (New Orleans) and Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) -- weren't tagged and can become free agents on March 13.

The Vikings were one of 11 teams that didn't use the tag at all.

On the road

Spielman's personal pro day tour next week will include stops at UCLA on Tuesday, Southern California on Wednesday and Oklahoma State on Friday.

That means he'll see at least two potential top five picks -- USC tackle Matt Kalil and Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon -- and once again refused on Monday to rule out any possibilities with the Vikings' pick at No. 3 overall.

"We're open for everything right now," Spielman said. "You've got 52 days to figure it out."

Kalil remains the favorite, unless the Vikings get an overwhelming offer to trade down. Spielman did point out two other top prospects -- Blackmon and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne -- also would fill holes on a rebuilding roster.

"We've got to do a lot more work on Blackmon and everybody knows what Claiborne is, too," Spielman said. "So, all those are areas of need that we'll definitely look at."

Looking for work

Eight former Gophers -- Duane Bennett, Chris Bunders, Anthony Jacobs, Brandon Kirksey, Eric Lair, Da'Jon McKnight, Kim Royston and Gary Tinsley -- participated in Monday's workout along with a couple dozen players from smaller schools in the region inside the Gibson-Nagurski Complex.

Perhaps the most impressive prospect was Lair (6-foot-3, 232 pounds), who ran consecutive 40-yard dashes in the 4.5-range, posted a 36½ vertical leap and spoke with scouts from three teams afterward.

"Today went fantastic," Lair said. "Better than I thought it would be. I did well in my position drills, even though I didn't catch many balls over the break. But yeah, I did better than I thought I would."

Without a single local prospect likely to be drafted, attendance was light. Eliot Wolf, the Green Bay Packers' assistant director of player personnel, was there along with scouts from the New York Giants, New England, San Francisco and Seattle.

Any local players unsigned after the draft likely will get a chance to participate on a tryout basis in the Vikings' rookie camp the weekend following the NFL Draft.

"I think that's huge as far as the relationship with all the state of Minnesota and all the states that are our neighbors," Spielman said. "If they have some players that we can help out or take a look at, we should definitely do that and we do do that."

Quick hits

• The Vikings took particular interest in former North Dakota DB Domonique Hawkins, a Plymouth native and Armstrong High School product who stayed after drills and went through a roughly 10-minute workout under the watch of Spielman, Paton and defensive assistant Jeff Imamura.

• Bennett posted 28 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press -- a figure that would have matched the best among running backs at last month's NFL scouting combine. "I was banking anywhere 25 or greater," Bennett said, "but when I knocked out the first 15, I was kind of like, 'Ooh, wow, I'm really going up there.' Kind of caught myself off-guard." Bennett said he was measured at 5-9 and 213 pounds and had a 35½-inch vertical.

• The lone quarterback at Monday's workout was Spencer Ohm, a Blooming Prairie, Minn., native who threw for 5,596 yards and 47 touchdowns over four years at Concordia University in St. Paul.

• Gophers QB MarQueis Gray and several other current players attended the workout to support their former teammates.

• Spielman declined comment on the NFL's announcement it has found the New Orleans Saints guilty of running a "bounty" program for several years under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. "The bounty thing is a league matter," Spielman said. "I'm going to let the league handle that."

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