NFL Nation: Naufahu Tahi
Center John Sullivan (calf) is also active, but Jon Cooper will start at center.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A fierce second-half rally allowed the Minnesota Vikings to cut their deficit Monday night to 15-13 with 12 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in their game against the New York Jets.
A two-point conversion attempt seemed the logical next step, but the Vikings first sent out their extra-point team. During the ensuing confusion, they called a timeout to get their offense back on the field. It was Decisive Moment No. 1 for the Vikings, who could have used that extra timeout as the game progressed.
The two-point play call appeared to be a good one. Quarterback Brett Favre faked a handoff, rolled to his right on a bootleg, and had fullback Naufahu Tahi wide open for a touchdown. But Favre inexplicably didn't throw, instead holding the ball and ultimately firing a wild pass toward tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Had they tied the score at that point, the rest of the game obviously would have played out differently.
Decisive Moment No. 2.
Asked about the initial confusion, coach Brad Childress said: "Could you use one? Could you use two? There are nine and something minutes to go in the fourth quarter and typically you are going to go for two. One was the same as two. We went for two. I might not be able to give you a clear answer, but we would love to have two there."
I'm not totally sure what Childress meant about one being the same as two, other than the fact that there was still plenty of time remaining in the game. But he did confirm that Favre should have thrown to Tahi on the play.
- ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Vikings would get a first-round pick in compensation if defensive end Ray Edwards signed elsewhere.
- The compensation for defensive tackle Fred Evans is a second-round pick, while quarterback Tarvaris Jackson would fetch a third-round pick, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
- Fullback Naufahu Tahi received the low tender, meaning the Vikings would receive no compensation for his departure.
The Vikings' plans for offensive lineman Ryan Cook and safety Eric Frampton remain unclear.
Potential unrestricted free agents: Linebacker Darrell McClover, defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, running back Adrian Peterson, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa.
Potential restricted free agents: Defensive end Mark Anderson, safety Josh Bullocks, safety Danieal Manning, linebacker Nick Roach, linebacker Jamar Williams.
Franchise player: None
What to expect: With no picks in the first or second round of next month's draft, the Bears are gearing up for a relatively major jump into free agency. They're expected to bid for defensive end Julius Peppers and possible safety Antrel Rolle and would also like to re-sign linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa. Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna could also be a target. Manumaleuna played for new offensive coordinator Mike Martz in St. Louis.
Potential unrestricted free agents: Linebacker Vinny Ciurciu, offensive lineman Damion Cook, quarterback Daunte Culpepper, tight end Casey Fitzsimmons, linebacker Larry Foote, tight end Will Heller, cornerback Anthony Henry, cornerback Will James, offensive lineman Jon Jansen, safety Marquand Manuel, quarterback Patrick Ramsey.
Potential restricted free agents: Defensive end Copeland Bryan, offensive lineman Dylan Gandy, defensive lineman Jason Hunter, offensive lineman Daniel Loper, offensive lineman Manny Ramirez, safety Ko Simpson, linebacker Cody Spencer.
Franchise player: None
What to expect: The Lions aren't likely to be as active as they were last year, but general manager Martin Mayhew said over the winter that he could envision a five- or six-man free agent class. Running back, defensive end and defensive back are all positions they will investigate. They'll also need to find a backup quarterback, assuming Daunte Culpepper moves on.
Green Bay Packers
Potential unrestricted free agents: Offensive lineman Chad Clifton, running back Ahman Green, linebacker Aaron Kampman, offensive lineman Mark Tauscher.
Potential restricted free agents: Safety Atari Bigby, defensive back Will Blackmon, offensive lineman Daryn Colledge, safety Nick Collins, defensive end Johnny Jolly, running back John Kuhn, offensive lineman Jason Spitz, cornerback Tramon Williams.
Franchise player: Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett
What to expect: The Packers will have a demanding offseason filled with difficult decisions. To this point, they haven't re-signed either of their starting offensive tackles. They are clearly approaching injured linebacker Aaron Kampman with caution. And they have a long line of restricted free agents who would like long-term contracts, starting with Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins. The Packers have more than enough to keep them busy, but they haven't dabbled much in free agency in recent years, anyway.
Potential unrestricted free agents: Offensive lineman Artis Hicks, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, cornerback Benny Sapp, running back Chester Taylor.
Potential restricted free agents: Offensive lineman Ryan Cook, defensive end Ray Edwards, defensive tackle Fred Evans, safety Eric Frampton, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, fullback Naufahu Tahi.
Franchise player: None.
What to expect: The Vikings are awaiting word from quarterback Brett Favre on the 2010 season, a decision that could impact their offseason plans. They would like tailback Chester Taylor back, but it's possible Taylor will at least test his value on the open market. As a Final Four team, the Vikings will be limited to signing players that have been released by other teams unless they lose one of their own unrestricted free agents first.
1. Tendering a 1-year contract, OR
2. "Non-tendering" the player, essentially cutting ties.
Remember, a restricted free agent (RFA) is a player with four or five years of experience whose contract has expired. Those players are free to seek offers elsewhere, but current teams at least have the right to match that offer and keep the player. Depending on the level of contract tender, the team could also receive draft-pick compensation.
If the player doesn't sign an offer sheet elsewhere, and can't agree on a long-term contract, he plays at the salary in the chart below. (There are slightly higher values for players in their fifth seasons.)
Because of the addition of a fifth year to the RFA list in the uncapped year, an additional 212 players are scheduled to be restricted free agents this offseason. Below is a list of the primary RFAs for each NFC North team.
There have been some reports about individual tenders, but no team has officially released its decisions. That will happen sometime between now and Thursday night. When it does, we'll analyze how easy or difficult it will be for those tendered to move on to another team.
Chicago Bears: Defensive end Mark Anderson, safety Josh Bullocks, safety Danieal Manning, linebacker Nick Roach, linebacker Jamar Williams.
Detroit Lions: Defensive end Copeland Bryan, offensive lineman Dylan Gandy, defensive lineman Jason Hunter, offensive lineman Daniel Loper, offensive lineman Manny Ramirez, safety Ko Simpson, linebacker Cody Spencer.
Green Bay Packers: Safety Atari Bigby, defensive back Will Blackmon, offensive lineman Daryn Colledge, safety Nick Collins, defensive end Johnny Jolly, running back John Kuhn, offensive lineman Jason Spitz, cornerback Tramon Williams, running back DeShawn Wynn.
Minnesota Vikings: Offensive lineman Ryan Cook, defensive end Ray Edwards, defensive tackle Fred Evans, safety Eric Frampton, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, cornerback Karl Paymah, fullback Naufahu Tahi.
To read all of our award-winning CBAWatch discussion, click here.
It all unraveled, however, in a two-play sequence that will be discussed all offseason in Minnesota. Here’s a closer look:
Prior to third down at the 33, the Vikings called a timeout with 19 seconds left. They changed their personnel during the break, according to coach Brad Childress, but not every player got the message. Childress said the Vikings “slipped up” and had an extra fullback on the field, leading to a crippling 5-yard penalty for 12 men in the huddle. It’s believed the fullback was Naufahu Tahi.
That pushed the ball back to the 38-yard line, meaning placekicker Ryan Longwell -- who had converted 26 of 28 field goals during the regular season -- would be faced with a 55- or 56-yard attempt to win the game. Longwell’s career high came from 55 yards to win a 2007 game at Soldier Field.
“We would have tried that from 56 yards,” Longwell said.” But after that 12-men-on-the field penalty, they felt we needed to get a little closer.”
So the Vikings sent quarterback Brett Favre on a rollout. Afterwards, Favre would say he wished he had run the ball and called a timeout. Instead, he threw across his body toward receiver Sidney Rice at the Saints’ 22-yard line. Cornerback Tracy Porter stepped in front of Rice and intercepted the pass.
“I was actually late to Sidney,” Favre said. “I probably should have ran it. I don’t know far I could have gotten, but in hindsight, that is probably what I should have done.”
Assuming Favre doesn’t return to this game, we can pass along that he will finish the season with 4,202 passing yards -- the third-highest total of his career. He’s also thrown 33 touchdown passes and a career-low seven interceptions. His completion percentage of 68.4 is a career-high.
Fans at the Metrodome have already started “The Wave,” which is my cue to halt the in-game blogging. I’ll be back with you shortly after this game.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Minnesota receiver Bernard Berrian will play, Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley will not, and if the Packers are planning a change at left tackle, they haven’t let on yet.
That’s the upshot of the inactive lists just distributed here in the press box. Berrian (hamstring) must have passed his tests during warmups. There was little doubt that Finley (knee) would play. And left tackle Chad Clifton is active, and the only lineup change the Packers announced was that center Scott Wells would start in place of Jason Spitz, who is inactive because of a back injury.
Clifton is the Packers’ default starter, so I’m assuming he will get the nod over rookie T.J. Lang. That’s a mild surprise, but we’ll see how it plays out.
For Minnesota, the only surprise deactivation is fullback Naufahu Tahi. Receiver Percy Harvin (shoulder, illness) is active.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
MINNEAPOLIS -- I think it’s fair to say Minnesota coach Brad Childress isn’t entirely comfortable with the quarterback depth on his roster even after the arrival of new starter Brett Favre.
Childress was steamed late Friday night about the play of backups Sage Rosenfels and John David Booty, each of whom had interceptions returned for touchdowns in the third quarter of a 35-31 loss to Dallas. Childress admitted he intentionally benched both of them for the transgression -- a rarity in the scripted world of the preseason -- and didn’t sound like a coach who has decided on the final configuration of the position.
Asked to assess the team’s quarterback play on a night Favre watched from the sidelines, Childress said, “At times it was embarrassing. And I’ll end up putting that on myself some, not having them ready to come out of the locker room at halftime. [But] all of the quarterbacks I’ve ever coached have some regard for the football and you can’t throw it them.”
Tarvaris Jackson started the game and played four series, completing 2 of 4 passes for 42 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown to tight end Jeff Dugan.
But on the first play of the third quarter, Rosenfels threw a short out pass into the hands of Dallas safety Patrick Watkins, who returned the interception 23 yards for a touchdown. Booty replaced Rosenfels for the next series. One the fifth play of that possession, however, he forced a pass to receiver Vinny Perretta. Dallas linebacker Steve Octavien grabbed it and dashed 44 yards for a score.
Then we were back to Rosenfels. Asked why he flipped quarterbacks the first time, Childress said: “Because he threw an interception for a touchdown.” Asked if that also explained why Booty sat down after one series, Childress said: “Pretty much, yep.”
Rosenfels seemed much less disturbed after completing 7 of 15 passes for 115 yards, noting that even Favre has thrown an interception or two (or 310) in his career.
“It always seems like you want to take back one play,” Rosenfels said. “I wish I could get that play back. Just a bad play by me. Other than that, I felt comfortable out there and did a pretty good job of executing the offense, other than that one play. So I’m going to keep firing. I talked to Brett. Brett’s overcome his fair share of interceptions. I think he has the NFL record. And he just keeps firing. So just keep firing and keep plugging away.”
Entering the game, we wondered which of the Vikings’ four quarterbacks would be spending his last day on the roster. After watching Childress’ reaction to Friday night’s game, it’s hard to imagine it being Jackson. For one night, at least, Jackson appeared to be the Vikings’ second-best quarterback. The team reportedly has been trying to trade him, but at this point I don’t believe Childress would feel comfortable with what he would be left with.
Jackson finished the preseason with a 118.4 passer rating, having completed 23 of 36 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’ve been having fun the past few weeks and that’s really all I can say,” Jackson said. “I feel like regardless of what happened here, my future is still bright in the NFL. I can’t control exactly what happens here. I can only control what happens on the field.”
Childress doesn’t seem to have the same comfort level with Rosenfels, but it would be foolish for the Vikings to release him four months after trading a fourth-round draft pick for him. That leaves Booty, who is still developing but could find his way to the practice squad.
I asked Childress about the possibility of keeping four quarterbacks on the active roster. He didn’t seem enthused by the idea.
“The No. 3 only plays a very, very small percentage of the time,” Childress said. “We’ve done some studies about that. Unless you think you have somebody that somebody else covets and might be able to get something for, that would be a reason to hold on to somebody. [You’re] hoping that you’re not getting to No. 4 during the season.”
We’ll know more Saturday. NFL rosters must be pared to 53 by 6 p.m. ET.
A few other points before we call it a night:
- Childress managed to sit all 22 starters. (Fullback Naufahu Tahi played on special teams only.) Also held out were backup receivers Percy Harvin and Bobby Wade, reserve linebacker Heath Farwell and backup tailback Chester Taylor. My instinct is to make a sarcastic remark about Childress taking it easy on so many players, but after watching Chicago and Green Bay on Thursday night, I suppose I understand. The Bears lost tailback Kevin Jones (ankle) for the season, while Green Bay rookie B.J. Raji limped off the field with an ankle injury.
- Receiver Darius Reynaud might have locked up a roster spot by returning a punt 81 yards for a touchdown.
- A sight to see: Defensive tackle Letroy Guion fumble while trying to move the ball to his left hand as he returned a second-quarter interception. Linebacker Kenny Onatolu recovered to maintain possession for the Vikings.
- Not sure what this means, but every time I noticed Favre on the sideline, he was talking to left guard Steve Hutchinson. Like Forrest and Jenny, they were two peas in a pod.
|It was standing room only for the media Friday night.|
MINNEAPOLIS -- Brett Favre jogged onto the field Friday night for pregame warmups at exactly 7:21 p.m. ET. At that moment, a media colleague elbowed me and said the scene in front of us -- Favre wearing a purple jersey, purple socks and horns on his helmet -- looked like a "real-life photo-shop."
I can't think of a better way to describe what unfolded in front of me and about 60,000 others over the past couple hours. The player wearing No. 4 looked like Brett Favre and carried himself like Brett Favre, but for a while it just didn't seem real. Even the most grizzled Metrodome veterans I know were blown away by how their worlds seemed to be colliding.
Maybe that's why darn near every person engaged in flash photography for the better part of an hour: To document one of the more historic days in Vikings history.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, that's about where the fun ended. Once the pomp and circumstance was over, Favre looked very much like a 39-year-old quarterback who just finished his first week of practice in almost nine months. He misfired on three of his four passes, his only completion a diving four-yard catch by receiver Percy Harvin, and absorbed two heavy hits from an active Kansas City defense. The Vikings managed nine yards over five plays in two series before Tarvaris Jackson replaced him.
(Those same fans booed Jackson as he jogged on the field. Classy.)
For those who are interested and don't have a live TV feed, here is what happened on Favre's four passes:
- Favre throws several yards wide of fullback Naufahu Tahi, who is about four yards away from the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Tamba Hali slams Favre to the turf after beating left tackle Bryant McKinnie.
- Harvin makes a diving catch of a low throw at the Chiefs' 47-yard line, but the dive causes Harvin to lose first-down yardage.
- Favre steps up in the pocket and fires about 15 yards downfield to receiver Jaymar Johnson, but the ball sails about three yards wide of Johnson.
- Chiefs linebacker Corey Mays bursts through the middle of the Vikings' line untouched on a blitz, slamming into Favre just as he lets go of the ball. Favre's pass falls well short of Harvin down the left sideline.
I'll have postgame reaction in a few hours.
Minnesota's decision to retain fullback Naufahu Tahi, as reported here by Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune, seemed a foregone conclusion since the team lost out on free agent Leonard Weaver last week. So why did the Vikings take the full seven days to match?
I asked coach Brad Childress that question earlier this week during the NFL owners' meeting. His response:
"You have a week and in these economic times, rather than take on a burden for an extra week of principle and interest, there's really no merit in jumping out of the box until 11:59:59 if that, in fact, is what you're going to do."
What does that mean? Tahi carried a $1.01 million cap charge on the Vikings' books when free agency began, the value of his restricted tender offer. When he signed an offer sheet with Cincinnati, the Bengals absorbed a $1.4 million charge.
When and if the Vikings matched, the difference in the charges -- $390,000 -- would be transferred to their books. There are no cash considerations, but in essence the Vikings bought themselves a week of extra salary-cap space. That didn't make a difference in their day-to-day operations, but in general it's a good policy to follow when the numbers are meaningful.
(Note: I updated the paragraphs above to clarify the explanation.)
To me, the bigger question is why the Vikings think it's so important to have a high-priced fullback on their roster when he plays less than 50 percent of their offensive snaps. This will be the fourth time in the past four years they have a fullback on the roster averaging $1 million or more on his contract. Tony Richardson was their starter in 2006 and 2007, while Thomas Tapeh earned $1.855 million for two games last season before being waived.
I've always thought the Vikings should find a way to maximize the time that Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor spend on the field together. When they absolutely need a fullback, they have H-back Jeff Dugan on their roster for that purpose. But that's just me.
Preston started 11 games at center last season for Buffalo and could join the competition between Scott Wells and Jason Spitz at that position. But Packers coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week Preston could provide depth at guard at well. Daryn Colledge is expected to play left guard, but the right guard position is less settled.
Here's what McCarthy said about Preston earlier this week:
"I was very impressed with Duke. Very bright. I like the way he presented himself. I found it to be a very positive visit. ... He's a big guy. It says 6-5. You watch him on film, then you meet him, and he's a big guy. He's young and I think he's got a lot of good football ahead of him."
Preston joins safety Anthony Smith as the two unrestricted free agents the Packers have signed this offseason. They also matched an offer sheet for defensive back Jarrett Bush, who was a restricted free agent.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Minnesota must decide Friday whether to match the $1.4 million offer sheet that fullback Naufahu Tahi signed last week with Cincinnati, notes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune. Coach Brad Childress said earlier this week that the team was in no rush to announce a decision because of salary-cap implications. I'll have a comment on that stance later Friday based on the team's decision.
- Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune isn't a big fan of Denver quarterback Jay Cutler: "The central question to any discussion involving the Bears and the possibility of acquiring Cutler is not how much general manager Jerry Angelo would be willing to give up in a trade or how the offensive scheme would have to be tweaked to accommodate all of his considerable talents. It's this: You're going to entrust the Bears' offense to a guy who, at the first indication of 'adversity,' basically quits on his team?"
- Quarterback Drew Stanton, a second-round draft pick in 2007, is an afterthought in Detroit's plans for 2009, writes David Birkett of the Oakland Press.
Posted by ESPN.com staff
- Free agent Matt Stover, the kicker who has been with the Ravens since their inception, said he's no longer in the team's plans.
- Team officials are reportedly not interested in adding free-agent receiver Terrell Owens.
- The Bengals planned all along to target receiver Laveranues Coles if they were unable to re-sign receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Carson Palmer lobbied Coles to sign with the team.
- Unrestricted free-agent offensive lineman George Foster and restricted free-agent fullback Naufahu Tahi visited with the Bengals on Thursday.
- The Browns re-signed safety Mike Adams to a three-year, $4.1 million deal on Thursday.
- Browns free-agent safety Sean Jones, a second-round pick in 2004, will visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday.
We haven't posted much on the search for former Detroit defensive end Corey Smith because something just didn't seem right about mixing the increasingly tragic story with daily news about free agent comings and goings. But with the U.S. Coast Guard's decision to call off the search for Smith and two other boaters who went missing over the weekend in the Gulf of Mexico, it's time to share some thoughts and words from some of the people who knew Smith well in Detroit.
Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com recalls how committed former Lions coach Rod Marinelli was to keeping Smith on the roster, even if it meant overloading at the defensive line position. Marinelli told ChicagoBears.com that Smith was "as tough as any guy I ever coached."
Former Lions receiver Roy Williams recalled how Marinelli repeatedly showed a tape of Smith blocking two men during a kickoff return in 2007.
Smith had a sweet tooth and once told Brian Van Ochten of Mlive.com that his favorite dessert was brownies and ice cream:
"If I see it in front of me, I've got to eat it -- that combination," Smith once told Van Ochten. "I put fudge on it. I just love that hot and cold combination, plus the [hot] fudge."
Smith was a free agent and it was uncertain whether the Lions had plans to bring him back, but it's clear he made a lasting legacy in Detroit.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- The Lions are expected to agree to terms Wednesday with nose tackle Grady Jackson if he passes a physical during his visit, according to David Birkett of the Oakland Press.
- Former Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman will visit Cincinnati on Thursday, according to the Bengals' Web site.
- Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune believes the Bears need to bring in a veteran backup for starting quarterback Kyle Orton.
- Free agent safety Michael Adams left Green Bay without a contract Tuesday and headed to New England, according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
- The Packers have interest in Dallas linebacker Kevin Burnett, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Minnesota center Matt Birk will decide between Minnesota and Baltimore by Thursday, according to Chip Scoggins and Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
- Vikings fullback Naufahu Tahi will visit the Bengals on Thursday, writes Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Minnesota linebacker Heath Farwell will visit Cleveland this week after completing a visit in New England, according to Scoggins.
Perhaps this is my Detroit Lions naiveté surfacing, but I'm surprised no one is even mildly chiding Detroit vice chairman Bill Ford, Jr., for publicizing his dissent with the way his father runs the team.
Because, in essence, that's what Ford Jr. did Monday when he told reporters he would fire president/CEO/general manager Matt Millen if he had the authority. He doesn't, of course. That responsibility remains with his father, William Clay Ford, who hasn't listened to his son's advice.
Yes, it was a breath of fresh air to hear a Ford acknowledge the mistake Millen has been. And we in the media always appreciate the truth. But it hardly promotes respect for the chain of command, an essential tenet for an NFL team and any other corporation. Is this no different than an assistant coach publicly questioning the head coach's play-calling?
I suspect Millen fatigue is so intense these days that it supersedes all other problems. As Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News writes: "Nothing can move forward with this team until the main guy is held accountable. The Lions are paralyzed and poisoned by Millen's presence, by his stunning incompetence, and he has to know it."
Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press suggests Ford Jr.'s comments could give Millen an opening to resign and save at least a minimal amount of public respect: "If Millen is so fond of [William Clay Ford], how can he let himself be the wedge between Senior and Junior? I don't see how he can rationalize that to himself."
And, as Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com writes, Ford Jr.'s comments came too early to wait until after the season to address them: "Ford can't allow the dark cloud to hang over this organization for the rest of the season."
As of Tuesday morning, there were no indications the Lions were planning any changes. Firing Millen or accepting his resignation now wouldn't do much to save the season, but it would give the team a head-start on hiring their next leader.
The Lions have a bye this weekend and the timing is right. But after Ford Jr. took the extraordinary route of placing public pressure on his own father, his father could be more dug in than ever.
Elsewhere in less controversial regions of the NFC North:
- Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines whether the career of Green Bay cornerback Al Harris could be over because of a ruptured spleen. If Harris ultimately has his spleen removed, "a return would be less likely," Silverstein reports.
- The Packers aren't thrilled with the inconsistency of new punter Derrick Frost, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "He needs to do a better job, there's no doubt about that," coach Mike McCarthy said.
- Tampa Bay offensive lineman Jeremy Trueblood accused unnamed Chicago defenders of grabbing his genitals during Sunday's game at Soldier Field. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris didn't deny it, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. Asked if it was possible someone on the Bears did it, Harris said: "Yeah, the same way my junk got grabbed during the game. That happens, so guard your junk." Hmmmm.
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune thinks coach Lovie Smith should give his laid-back style a "mini-makeover" and get after a few of his players publicly.
- Minnesota has benched starting fullback Thomas Tapeh, whom they signed to a five-year contract on the first day of free agency. In his place is third-year player Naufahu Tahi, writes Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- The Vikings have the NFL's worst touchdown percentage in the red zone, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune. The Tennessee Titans, their opponent Sunday, have the best.