VikingBuzz BLOG: Sharper Speculation

Darren Sharper (Christian Peterson/Getty)

The latest internet buzz speculates that veteran safety Darren Sharper will not be re-signed by the Vikings due to salary cap limitations. If not, where will he land?

Given the lucrative contract awarded to safety Madieu Williams as a free agent last season, coupled with the addition of Tyrell Johnson in the draft, it isn’t a well-kept secret to suggest that with veteran safety Darren Sharper’s contract running out he may not be back with the Vikings.

The latest from the ProFootballTalk.com rumor mill suggests the New Orleans Saints could be an interested suitor.

Sharper spent his first eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers before joining the Vikings in 2005.  He was an impact player from the start in Minnesota, notching nine interceptions in his first season, followed by four in 2006 and 2007.  However, last season he garnered just one pick, and some have suggested that he truly began to show signs of age, especially in his suddenness and open-field athleticism.

Nevertheless, Sharper needs only four more interceptions to rank in the top ten of all time.  He currently has 54, ranking 18th on the all-time list.

Williams, who agreed to a six-year, $33 million contract last year, is signed by the Vikings through 2013.  Despite missing the first seven games of the season with a scary neck injury, Williams finished the year strong with 42 tackles, three pass breakups and two interceptions in nine starts to show why the team thought so highly of him.

Johnson started those first seven games for Williams.  He did not truly stand out as he registered 31 tackles, two pass breakups and one interception, but he was seldom caught out of position, either, which is usually evident when a rookie defensive back is thrown to the wolves.

The long-range plan is clearly to pair Williams and Johnson in the deep secondary, so the departure of Sharper seems imminent.

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