Updated: September 3rd, 2010 10:48pm
Pelissero: Trade helped sort out roster, but it left Vikings thinner, too

Pelissero: Trade helped sort out roster, but it left Vikings thinner, too

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

For more than seven months, the Minnesota Vikings approached their roster like a team on the cusp of a championship.

They brought back all but three players from the team that went to January's NFC championship game -- the highest retention rate in the league.

They parlayed their top three draft picks into two and filled their two biggest holes with cornerback Chris Cook and running back Toby Gerhart.

They begged, bribed and borderline kidnapped quarterback Brett Favre to ensure he'd play a 20th NFL season.

Then ... they traded Sage Rosenfels and Darius Reynaud to the New York Giants on Friday night for two future draft picks.

Let's be clear: a backup quarterback and a serviceable return man weren't going to make or break the Vikings' chances.

But trading away two players whose preseason performances were worthy of spots on the 53-man roster -- and getting nothing in return that can help them this season -- was a curious move for a team in the Vikings' position.

Rosenfels was hands-down the best quarterback in the preseason. Trading him has seemed a virtual inevitability since his temporary demotion in training camp, but what happens if Favre gets hurt and Tarvaris Jackson plays like he has the past week?

Likewise, Reynaud was the Vikings' best return man in the preseason. Perhaps Percy Harvin really is over his migraine issues and can handle punts in addition to kickoffs, but who takes over if Harvin has another setback?

It's always important to remember on cutdown weekend that nothing is final. The Vikings roster that exists at 5 p.m. Saturday may be far different than the one at 5 p.m. Sunday or, more important, 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Among other things, the Vikings could flip the 2011 fifth-round pick they acquired from the Giants in a deal to address one of their remaining questions at cornerback, receiver or offensive tackle.

Only time will tell if Friday's trade was part of something bigger -- or simply a one-way package that left a contending team thinner at two skill positions.

Here's one projection of how the rest of the roster might shake out:

Quarterbacks

In (3): Brett Favre, Tarvaris Jackson, Joe Webb.

Why: Right or wrong, dealing Rosenfels sorted out one of the biggest conundrums entering the weekend. Jackson always was coach Brad Childress' pick for the No. 2 job behind Favre, preseason struggles notwithstanding. Webb, the rookie sixth-round pick, has such fantastic physical tools he could play in a select package or two immediately.

Running backs

In (4): Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Albert Young, Naufahu Tahi.

Out: Ryan D'Imperio, Ian Johnson.

Why: Young is a sound pass protector on a team that badly needs one, even if he's just a guy as a runner. D'Imperio needs a year of practice-squad seasoning to work on his technique before he's ready to push Tahi.

Receivers

In (5): Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo, Greg Lewis, Javon Walker/acquisition.

Reserve/PUP: Sidney Rice.

Out: Logan Payne, Taye Biddle, Marquis Hamilton, Freddie Brown.

Why: Walker was productive in two preseason appearances and could develop into a viable red-zone option if his knees hold up. However, the Vikings have to be keeping their eyes open as cuts come out for someone with a little more burst and a lot less injury history. Lewis is one-dimensional, had only one preseason catch and shouldn't feel totally safe either. Payne got hurt last week and could get an injury settlement.

Tight ends

In (3): Visanthe Shiancoe, Jimmy Kleinsasser, Jeff Dugan.

Out: Garrett Mills, Mickey Shuler.

Why: Dugan is the most polished blocker among the bubble set, and he also is versed in the dual H-back motion roles the Vikings ask tight ends to play. Mills largely was invisible the final three preseason games and simply doesn't have the upside he once did. Shuler, the rookie seventh-round pick, has a balanced skillset but may not be ready to contribute right away.

Offensive linemen

In (8): Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson, John Sullivan, Anthony Herrera, Phil Loadholt, Chris DeGeare, Jon Cooper, Patrick Brown/acquisition.

Out: Ryan Cook, Drew Radovich, Chris Clark, Thomas Austin, Adrian Battles.

Why: Sullivan's lingering calf injury makes this group hard to project. Cooper is a good bet because he's the best pure center behind Sullivan. DeGeare is the top backup at both guard spots. Brown is a darkhorse, but he held up pretty well at left tackle against Denver's starters on Thursday and the Vikings need someone who's comfortable on the edge. Cook has been working exclusively inside and played poorly in the preseason. Radovich only has worked at right tackle and Clark has been terrible.

Defensive linemen

In (10): Ray Edwards, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Jimmy Kennedy, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, Jayme Mitchell, Everson Griffen.

Out: Mike Montgomery, Tremaine Johnson.

Why: The rest of the NFL is watching how this group shakes out. Guion was one of the early standouts in camp. Evans overcame a slow start and seemed to be everywhere in the preseason, saving his best for Thursday. Mitchell had dominant stretches. Griffen, the rookie fourth-round pick, hasn't flashed much but has too much upside as a pass-rusher to let him go. Nearly every backup could be had for the right price, but if the Vikings don't get it, they might keep them all.

Linebackers

In (7): Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson, Ben Leber, Jasper Brinkley, Erin Henderson, Heath Farwell, Kenny Onatolu.

Out: Nate Triplett.

Why: This is one spot where the Vikings could go lighter once they find cornerback help on waivers. Farwell and Onatolu make the cut here because of past productivity on special teams. Triplett, the rookie fifth-round pick, flashed with three special-teams tackles on Thursday but had done almost nothing to that point.

Defensive backs

In (9): Antoine Winfield, Chris Cook, Madieu Williams, Tyrell Johnson, Asher Allen, Cedric Griffin, Lito Sheppard, Jamarca Sanford, Husain Abdullah.

Out: Marcus Sherels, Eric Frampton, Colt Anderson, DeAndre Wright.

Why: The Vikings can't go to New Orleans with only three healthy corners, which is how many they'd have with Cook (knee) out and Griffin (knee) still on active/PUP. A trade or waiver claim to address that need seems likely. Griffin must be activated or moved to reserve/PUP -- the former seems more likely because the Vikings need help and Griffin may be ready to contribute before Week 7. Sherels, the undrafted rookie, has an outside chance to stick until they find someone else. Frampton has played in every game the past two seasons, but there are reasons few NFL teams keep five safeties.

Specialists

In (4): Ryan Longwell, Chris Kluwe, Cullen Loeffler, Rhys Lloyd.

Why: The Vikings gave Lloyd a $200,000 bonus to get touchbacks, and he showed he's still capable of getting them on Thursday. Adding 5 yards and a second of hang time on the average kickoff is a big deal if Lloyd can do it consistently.

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
In this story: Husain Abdullah, Jared Allen, Asher Allen, Colt Anderson, Thomas Austin, Adrian Battles, Bernard Berrian, Taye Biddle, Jasper Brinkley, Patrick Brown, Greg Camarillo, Brad Childress, Chris Clark, Chris Cook, Ryan Cook, Jon Cooper, Ryan D'Imperio, Chris DeGeare, Jeff Dugan, Ray Edwards, Fred Evans, Heath Farwell, Brett Favre, Eric Frampton, Toby Gerhart, Chad Greenway, Everson Griffen, Cedric Griffin, Letroy Guion, Marquis Hamilton, Percy Harvin, Erin Henderson, E.J. Henderson, Anthony Herrera, Steve Hutchinson, Tarvaris Jackson, Tremaine Johnson, Tyrell Johnson, Ian Johnson, Jimmy Kennedy, Jimmy Kleinsasser, Chris Kluwe, Ben Leber, Greg Lewis, Rhys Lloyd, Phil Loadholt, Cullen Loeffler, Ryan Longwell, Bryant McKinnie, Garrett Mills, Jayme Mitchell, Mike Montgomery, Kenny Onatolu, Logan Payne, Adrian Peterson, Drew Radovich, Darius Reynaud, Sidney Rice, Brian Robison, Sage Rosenfels, Jamarca Sanford, Lito Sheppard, Marcus Sherels, Visanthe Shiancoe, Mickey Shuler, John Sullivan, Naufahu Tahi, Nate Triplett, Javon Walker, Joe Webb, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, Madieu Williams, Antoine Winfield, DeAndre Wright, Albert Young
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