Vikings get Cowart for 7th-round draft pick

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The New York Jets traded middle
linebacker Sam Cowart to the Minnesota Vikings on Friday for a
seventh-round pick in this year's draft.

Cowart saw his playing time diminish in 2004 after a knee injury
knocked him out for an extended period and rookie Jonathan Vilma
emerged as a standout player. After the season, Cowart asked for a
trade when it became clear he wouldn't have much of a role with the

The move to Minnesota reunites him with defensive coordinator
Ted Cottrell, who coached him in Buffalo and New York, along with
former Bills teammates Antoine Winfield, Pat Williams, Keith Newman
and Ken Irvin.

"Adding Sam Cowart gives us a strong veteran presence and
leadership in the middle of our defense," said Vikings coach Mike
Tice said. "Sam has played at an elite level throughout his career
and we are expecting him to add that type of performance to our

Cowart, entering his eighth season in the NFL, was a
second-round pick of Buffalo in 1998 and emerged as a star,
notching over 100 tackles in five of his first seven NFL seasons.
But he hasn't been the same since an Achilles' tendon injury in

He played outside linebacker for two years with the Jets before
moving back to the middle last season, where he is most
comfortable. Cowart was playing well until he sprained his knee in
Week 2 against San Diego and missed the next six games. He was
hardly used when he got healthy.

The Vikings have been busy upgrading their defense in the
offseason, signing linebacker Napoleon Harris, safety Darren
Sharper, cornerback Fred Smoot and Williams in the last three
weeks. Including Cowart, the five players bring a combined 339 NFL
starts, 57 interceptions, 32 sacks and have played in three Pro