Vikings gain while Packers may lose

Wahle

The off-season intrigue continued Wednesday as the chances of the Green Bay Packers losing both Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera grew while the Minnesota Vikings took a huge step toward countering the Packers' vaunted running game.

On the day Minnesota officially traded Randy Moss to Oakland, the Vikings gave defensive tackle Pat Williams a three-year, $13 million contract. The 315-pound Williams was one of the better run defenders in the game during a standout eight-year run with the Buffalo Bills. Williams will team with Vikings Pro Bowler Kevin Williams to give Minnesota one of the best defensive-tackle combos in the league.

Mix in the addition of Napoleon Harris, the linebacker obtained in the Moss deal, and Minnesota's run defense is due to improve from porous to stout.

Those additions are vital when going against the Packers and their bread-and-butter off-tackle running game. That running game is in the process of going from stellar to highly questionable, however, after the first day of free agency.

Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera, an unrestricted free agent, is in "serious negotiations" with the Dallas Cowboys, according to a scout.com story posted on packerreport.com. The Cowboys have salary-cap space and a win-now mentality fostered by owner Jerry Jones and coach Bill Parcells. Parcells also loves to run the ball, and there are few better run blockers in the game than Rivera. Adding Rivera would be a huge upgrade for the league's 20th-ranked rushing attack.

Dallas wants to get a deal done as soon as possible, and with the Packers a mere $1 million under the cap, Rivera could be gone unless the Packers take drastic actions such as releasing safety Darren Sharper or renegotiating several contracts.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rivera is seeking a contract in the neighborhood of the five-year, $14.26 million deal signed by Adam Timmerman with the Rams last off-season.

There was no answer at the office of Rivera's agent, Jimmy Sexton, on Thursday morning.

Wahle, who was released in a salary-cap purge Tuesday, is being courted hot and heavy. That's no surprise since Wahle in some eyes is the best free agent available, regardless of position. Carolina could be his destination, according to scout.com. The Panthers reportedly have offered a $13 million signing bonus to Wahle, which is far too rich for the cap-strapped Packers.

Like the Cowboys, the Panthers would prefer to run the football but got away from that last season due to injuries at running back and ineffective play up front. Carolina's run offense ranked 28th in the league at a mere 98.9 yards per game.

Wahle agent Neil Cornrich did not immediately return a call for this story.

Meanwhile, restricted free agent defensive end Aaron Kampman is being courted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and unrestricted safety Bhawoh Jue is in negotiations with the San Diego Chargers, according to scout.com and other outlets.

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