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Spielman: Vikings Use Team Approach in Free Agency

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Although Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman is the public face of the franchise when it comes to offseason transactions, he isn't the only one who makes player personnel decisions.

Speaking with "The Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen on the 9 to Noon show on KFAN 100.3-FM on Thursday morning, Spielman said the Vikings use a team approach when it comes to free agency (clickhere for full interview, which starts near the 1 hour, 25 minute mark).

"We do it as a collective group," Spielman said. "I'll listen to our coaches and our scouts and our personnel department.

"I've evaluated all of these guys as well," he added. "Then we'll tie in (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Rob Brzezinski … and tie it into the business side. We all work extremely hard on this. It's similar to how we do the draft process."

Spielman said that part of free agent discussions is having all of your bases covered. That means having a contingency plan or two going into the process.

"That's part of being level-headed when you have to make decisions under pressure," Spielman said. "It's not out there in public but when do you jump off and don't pull the trigger on a deal?

"We cast a wide net and talk to a lot of different players' agents … they don't know if they're Plan A or Plan B or Plan E, but we make sure to cast that wide net because you never know what happens."

The Vikings have made a handful of moves this offseason. Minnesota announced the signings of guard Alex Boone and linebacker Emmanuel Lamur on Thursday. The Vikings also have re-signed 2015 starting safety Andrew Sendejo and guard Mike Harris (Vikings Free Agency Tracker).

Spielman said Sendejo, who had 100 total tackles and an interception in 2015, is a core player with a variety of skills that the Vikings can build around for the future.

"We know him very well and what his strengths and weaknesses are," Spielman said. "We know he's a Pro Bowl-caliber special teams player. 

"We know what type of character that kid has and what type of leadership he brings to our locker room. He is a tone-setter with the way he plays the game and he hits."

View images of new Vikings G Alex Boone from his days as a 49er.

Boone and Lemur, meanwhile, have previous history with Vikings coaches. Boone was in San Francisco when Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano coached 49ers tight ends last season. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer coached Lemur with the Bengals (2012-13).

Spielman said the familiarity was an important element in bringing in the players to wear purple and gold.

"We always said we're not huge into the free agent market," Spielman said. "But when there's an opportunity to get players, especially if our coaches know these players or have relationships with these players, it's like bringing in a player you've had in the past. I don't think it's as big a risk as going out and signing guys you don't have any relationship with."

Despite the Vikings making some notable moves, Spielman told Allen there could be more signings on the way.

"We're never done," Spielman said. "We've already targeted about five or six other guys.

"Are we going to spend big money on free agents? Absolutely not," he added. "But if there are guys out there looking to come in and compete on a very good football team, we're always going to welcome them to come in and compete."

And while all the recent focus has been on free agency, Spielman said the moves have set his franchise up well for the upcoming NFL Draft, which begins April 28 in Chicago.

Minnesota currently has the 23rd pick in the first round. 

"The one thing we wanted to do with signing the guys we've signed in free agency, it doesn't pigeonhole you into saying you have to take this position at No. 23," Spielman said. "It gives you the opportunity to go ahead and follow your draft board. 

"We may draft a guy at 23 in a position that no one expects us to draft," he added. "We're going to take the best player available, regardless of position."

View photos of new Vikings LB Emmanuel Lamur from his days as a Bengal.

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