NEW ORLEANS -- For several reasons, we've presumed that nose tackle Pat Williams will be among the veteran players who part ways with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason. He is a 38-year-old free agent, who recently told VikingUpdate.com that he doesn't trust some members of the organization and he suggested he plans to finish his career elsewhere.
Not so fast, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday at the NFL owners meeting. Frazier said he spoke with Williams about those sentiments and indicated he wants him to return, probably in a reduced role in 2011.
"We had a good talk," Frazier said. "I think we're on the same page with some things. Love Pat. Been great for me. Especially when I was in the [defensive] coordinator role. Been great for our locker room. You guys know Pat as well as I do. Love Pat."
Frazier smiled while finishing the thought, a silent indication that Williams is capable of saying anything at any time. If I had to guess, I would say Williams wants to get an idea of what options he might have on the free-agent market. If he returns to the Vikings, part of his job will be to usher in a younger group of defensive tackles.
"We'll have to see where things go," Frazier said. "He has some things he wants to achieve. We have some ideas about the direction we want to go as well. He knows what those directions are, and we'll have to see how it all plays out."
Depending on how the NFL offseason plays out, the Vikings could open the situation with their entire defensive line intact or new starters in three of the four positions. Left end Ray Edwards likely will leave if he is an unrestricted free agent but stay if he is classified as restricted, while defensive tackle Kevin Williams' looming four-game suspension won't be enforced until after the StarCaps legal case is completed.
Only right end Jared Allen seems guaranteed of opening the season in his 2010 spot.