LONG POST AHEAD*
First of all, I love this signing. We had a huge hole at safety with Dwight Smith's sorry a** sent packing and both Tank Williams and Mike Doss being free agents. Madieu fills the need and he fits the system. He is strong in coverage, something that has been a weakness for the Vikes for many years. He can also shift to corner on 3rd downs and blitz off the edge. I cannot remember the last time we had a corner who could apply pressure on the QB. Even though I would love to see a serious pass rush from our defensive ends, if we can any type of pressure from anywhere our pass D should improve. Madieu is not the most physical safety in the world but he will surely be an upgrade from the matador tactics that Dwight Smith employed the past two seasons. Honestly, watching Smith tackle reminded me of of 4th grade football when everyone was afraid to wrap up. Madieu is a major upgrade at a position that I felt was one of our big weaknesses last year.
I may be blinded by my hate for Dwight Smith, but I really like Madieu. Whenever I have watched Cincy play, I have always seen how deplorable their defense but have been impressed by Williams. Looking at his raw numbers are deceiving. He had very little help on D, and the past two years he has been dealing with inexperienced corners. Johnathan Joseph was a rookie in 2006 and Leon Hall was a frosh in 2007. He had to cover basically the whole field and he did it pretty well. The odd thing about Cincy is for that as bad as their defense is, they're losing their best two defensive players in Williams and end Justin Smith (another Vikes target). I have friends who are Packer fans, and even they have congratulated me for the signing. He holds high regard in the league and some have compared him to a young Darren Sharper. He can ballhawk in the secondary and can support the run fairly well. We have two safeties who are pretty solid in the two-way game.
Another thing about Williams is that he has great character. He was born in Africa and saw the struggles of some of the youth over there. That prompted him to start the Madieu Williams Foundation (wonder how he came up with that name?) which endorses smart and healthy decisions amongst youngsters. For as many bad eggs as the Vikings have had over the years it is nice to see a good samaritan in the mix. Hopefully that type of attitude permeates around the Vikings locker room.
One thing to keep in mind about the contract: It is a pretty penny, but really the big number is guaranteed money. Teams can cut players without much penatly really at any time. NFL contracts are goofy like that. And when you consider how the cap is accelerating each year, I am not worried that the money is going to be an issue, especially when signing a talented player at an area of need. The Vikings have backed up the Brinks truck to Hutchinson, Winfield, McKinnie, and overpaid guys like Wade and Schiancoe and yet they still always find themselves well under the cap. For all their faults, the team manages the cap well.
Sorry for the length. Me + beer= Vikings rants.