Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.
Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
Free agent defensive end Caesar Rayford announced on Facebook that he is joining the Vikings, though if Rayford has indeed signed, it has yet to pop up on the NFL’s official transaction wire.
After spending the 2014 season in the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League, Rayford, 29, was one of 105 players invited to the NFL’s inaugural veteran’s combine last month.
Rayford, who is listed at 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, went undrafted out of Washington in 2008. He played in the CFL and AFL before signing with the Colts in 2013. He ended up playing for the Cowboys that season and made five tackles in 144 defensive snaps over seven games.
After he was cut by the Cowboys following the 2014 preseason, Rayford had stints with the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL and the Calgary Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes of the CFL.
We’ll let you know if the Rayford move becomes official. After all, today is April Fools’ Day.
The Vikings have signed free agent quarterback Mike Kafka.
Kafka, who has not thrown an NFL pass since 2011, spent last season with the Buccaneers. The 27-year-old was a fourth-round pick of the Eagles in 2010. He has spent time with four NFL teams, including the Patriots and Jaguars. His only regular-season action came in 2011, when he completed 11 of 16 attempts for 107 yards with two interceptions over four games with the Eagles.
Kafka is from Chicago and played his college ball at Northwestern. He is 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds. His signing was announced by his agent on Twitter.
The Vikings had just three other quarterbacks on the roster in Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill and Pat Devlin. Kafka will be a fourth, and the team is expected to add a rookie during or after the draft.
The Vikings have free agent tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi in for a visit today, an NFL source confirmed.
Ogbuehi, 24, was a standout at Georgia State who has not caught a pass in the NFL. He was on the Ravens practice squad last season before being released; he started the season on Cleveland’s practice squad.
Ogbuehi participated in the veterans combine in Arizona on March 22. The National Football Post reported he would be visiting Tampa Bay on Thursday.
The Vikings already have four tight ends on their roster after signing Brandon Bostick early this offseason. The others are Rhett Ellison, Kyle Rudolph and Chase Ford.
There has been a lot of curiosity in Vikingsland about Babatunde Aiyegbusi, the offensive tackle the team signed last week. The Polish product, who I wrote about in today’s newspaper, is 6-foot-9.
His height is certainly noteworthy, but height-wise, “Babs” is far from an anomaly in today’s NFL.
Because I have too much time on my hands at the moment and too few hobbies, I decided to scan through every NFL roster to see how many players are listed at 6-foot-8 or taller.
I counted 29 of them, including Aiyegbusi. The majority of these tall men are offensive tackles or defensive ends, though there are a few exceptions, including a guard (Dennis Kelly of the Eagles), a tight end (Levine Toilolo of the Falcons) and a quarterback (Brock Osweiler of the Broncos).
While no active player is 6-foot-10 or taller, eight others are as listed as being tall as Aiyegbusi.
Interestingly, only one of the 29 players who are 6-foot-8 or higher has been selected to a Pro Bowl. That would be Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (6-foot-8). However, despite their lack of Pro Bowl invites, Cardinals offensive tackle Jared Veldheer (6-foot-8) and Patriots offensive tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer (both 6-foot-8) are pretty good players in their own right.
Still, height isn’t everything, or the late Manute Bol would have been quite the NFL superstar.
Anyway, while Aiyegbusi is the tallest player on their 90-man roster, the Vikings do have three other offensive tackles who are 6-foot-7 or taller in left tackle Matt Kalil (6-foot-7), right tackle Phil Loadholt (6-foot-8) and backup Carter Bykowski (6-foot-7). Throw in Antonio “Tiny” Richardson (6-foot-6) and Mike Harris (6-foot-5) and every Vikings offensive tackle is at least 6-foot-5.
In other words, Aiyegbusi isn’t the only Vikings offensive tackle who has to duck into doorways.
Chad Greenway had to sacrifice a sizable chunk of his salary to remain with the Vikings in 2015, but the veteran outside linebacker is happy he and the organization were able to find middle ground.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Viking and finish my career here and obviously it’s important to the Wilfs as well,” Greenway said Monday morning in a radio interview with KFAN FM 100.3.
Greenway was supposed to make $7 million in the final year of the deal he signed in 2011. But after agreeing to take a pay cut, he has a new base salary of $3.4 million with $1 million guaranteed. He can make up to $4 million through bonuses, including $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses.
The Vikings created $3.225 million in cap space by restructuring the final year of Greenway’s deal.
“Obviously, I signed my previous deal five years ago and I know personally that things can change [in the NFL],” Greenway said, later adding, “I’m a different player and I understand that and know how the league works, and I wanted to be conscious of that as we went through these discussions.”
Greenway admitted that after the 2014 season ended he was not confident that the Vikings wanted him back. But the team let him know they did. Greenway said he “had no leverage at all in this situation” given that he is a 32-year-old linebacker. But a satisfactory compromise was reached.
“There has to be some give and take,” Greenway said. “That’s how a negotiation works.”
Greenway also had words in the KFAN interview for anyone who feels he is washed up, insisting that Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer wouldn’t just keep him around for sentimental reasons.
“I know I have enough to help us win football games and be a leader on this team,” Greenway said.
|Atlanta||2||Bottom 8th Inning|
|Washington||0||Top 9th Inning|
|Boston||1||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Detroit||1||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Toronto||5||Top 7th Inning|
|Tampa Bay||3||Top 8th Inning|
|St. Louis||5||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Los Angeles||0||Bottom 1st Inning|
|LA Angels||1||Bottom 1st Inning|
|San Diego||3:05 PM|
|Chicago WSox||3:05 PM|
|San Antonio||6:00 PM|
|LA Clippers||9:00 PM|
|New Orleans||9:30 PM|