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Thread: Minnesota Vikings have holes and very little money

  1. #1

    Minnesota Vikings have holes and very little money

    Minnesota Vikings have holes and very little money
    By Ben Goessling
    bgoessling@pioneerpress.comtwincities.com
    Posted: 03/30/2013 12:01:00 AM CDT
    March 31, 2013 1:10 AM GMTUpdated: 03/30/2013 08:10:18 PM CDT


    With his "new star receiver" standing several feet to his left, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman closed his introduction of Greg Jennings on March 15 by suggesting the contract the team had just given the free-agent receiver would be the last notable deal it would make for a while.

    The five-year, $47.5 million deal the Vikings gave Jennings represented one of the team's few forays into the open market over the past two seasons. It was for a veteran receiver Spielman called "unique," and combined with the other moves the team made during the first week of free agency, it consumed most of the Vikings' available salary cap space; the team has less than $5 million available after re-signing linebacker Marvin Mitchell.

    "We'll continue to look out there in the (unrestricted free-agent) market, but we're really going to hone in now," Spielman said after introducing Jennings two weeks ago. "I'm very excited about this next process of making the Minnesota Vikings better, and that's the draft coming up, with a lot of the picks we're going to have."

    They have 11 of them, including two in the first round. They also have needs other than receiver, and with Jennings on the roster, the Vikings have the freedom to address a few of them at the top of the draft.

    Here's a look at how the Vikings' roster shapes up, which holes they need to fill and what they could do about them for the rest of the offseason:

    A MAN FOR THE MIDDLE?

    Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told reporters at the NFL owners' meetings this month that the team wants to "potentially draft someone" to play middle linebacker, adding depth to a position where the Vikings are strikingly thin. Mitchell and Audie Cole are the only middle linebackers on the roster, and both saw most of their action last season on special teams.

    With two first-round picks, the Vikings have a chance to acquire a top middle linebacker, either by taking one late in the round or packaging one of their choices to move up. Georgia's Alec Ogeltree could be gone by the time the Vikings pick, though he's been dogged by off-field concerns. Notre Dame's Manti Te'o might have answered his own well-documented off-the-field troubles, but concerns about his speed and his poor performance in the national championship game persist.

    LSU's Kevin Minter could go before Te'o, and NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said Rutgers' Khaseem Greene or Kansas State's Arthur Brown could fit the Vikings, though both are projected as outside linebackers.

    Could the Vikings dip back into the free-agent market? It's possible, but they might have a hard time finding a veteran who would play on the kind of cap-friendly deal that would allow them to sign all their draft picks. That, and the Vikings' focus on younger players, might make ex-Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher a long shot.

    YOUTH ON THE D-LINE

    If the Vikings want to add a defensive tackle -- either to play alongside or eventually replace Kevin Williams -- they're entering a good draft to do it.

    "If any of the top three -- (Florida's) Sharrif Floyd, (Utah's) Star Lotulelei or (Missouri's) Sheldon Richardson -- was there, I'd jump all over them," Mayock said at the NFL scouting combine in February. "I think they'll be gone by the time Minnesota gets on the board at 23. That means (North Carolina's) Sylvester Williams, (Purdue's) Kawann Short and (Ohio State's) Johnathan Hankins are potential D-line tackles. All three of them are gifted and talented kids and would fit what Minnesota does."

    Sylvester Williams, who has been linked to the Vikings in a handful of mock drafts, had six sacks at North Carolina -- though only one of those came in the final six games -- and ran a solid 40-yard dash time of 5.03 seconds at the combine. He could become the Vikings' successor to Kevin Williams, 32, at the three-technique tackle spot.

    With both Jared Allen and Brian Robison set to hit free agency after this season, it wouldn't be a shock if the Vikings drafted a defensive end. They met with Florida State's Cornelius Carradine at the combine in February; Carradine, who is coming off ACL surgery, has been rehabbing with Russ Paine -- the therapist who helped Adrian Peterson come back from knee surgery -- and said he plans to run for interested teams just before the draft. Bjoern Werner, Carradine's teammate at Florida State, also could be an option at defensive end.

    It's possible the Vikings would ask Kevin Williams to take a pay cut for 2013, though he said earlier this month the team hadn't approached him about that possibility.

    SECONDARY CONCERNS

    Though the Vikings' secondary made a sizable improvement from 2011 to 2012, the group will have questions to answer in 2013, particularly if Antoine Winfield isn't back.

    Chris Cook's durability and Josh Robinson's inexperience are concerns at cornerback, and A.J. Jefferson might not be anything more than a nickel corner. Both Cook and Jefferson are restricted free agents after next season, so the Vikings could target a cornerback to give them some depth in the middle rounds.

    There still are veteran corners on the market -- Chris Gamble and DeAngelo Hall, among others -- and the Vikings remain in contact with Winfield's agent. But like with Winfield, the Vikings' cap situation would factor into their pursuit of any proven cornerback.

    ANOTHER PASS AT A RECEIVER?

    Although the Vikings have the flexibility to look elsewhere in the first round, it seems hard to believe they wouldn't acquire another receiver -- particularly if they can find a big wideout to stretch the field. There's enough depth at receiver in this draft that the Vikings could come back to the position in the second or third round if they don't take one in the first round.

    Wide receivers coach George Stewart had good things to say about USC's Robert Woods in an interview with the Los Angeles Times last week, and California's Keenan Allen could be an option for the Vikings in the first round. The Vikings also could try to get former Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey on a low-cost deal. But after signing Jennings, they at least have someone they can count on at the position.

    "It opens up all the doors," Spielman said on March 15. "If there's another need that we have to fill, and you know there's depth in this draft at the receiver position, it doesn't force you to say, 'We need to take a receiver.' You can take whatever you need to fill."

    Follow Ben Goessling at twitter.com/BenGoesslingPP.

  2. #2
    I was hoping Woods would fall to us in the 2nd round, but he's been moving up boards looks like he could go as early as late in the 1st round.

  3. #3
    t was for a veteran receiver Spielman called "unique," and combined with the other moves the team made during the first week of free agency, it consumed most of the Vikings' available salary cap space; the team has less than $5 million available after re-signing linebacker Marvin Mitchell.


    With only $5myn, I guess the cutting of Winfield was required to sign Jennings and Loadholt. Still hope we can bring him back, but with us also having to sign our draft picks (anybody have any idea what that will cost?), maybe that's isnt reasonable anymore...

  4. #4
    t was for a veteran receiver Spielman called "unique," and combined with the other moves the team made during the first week of free agency, it consumed most of the Vikings' available salary cap space; the team has less than $5 million available after re-signing linebacker Marvin Mitchell.


    With only $5myn, I guess the cutting of Winfield was required to sign Jennings and Loadholt. Still hope we can bring him back, but with us also having to sign our draft picks (anybody have any idea what that will cost?), maybe that's isnt reasonable anymore...

  5. #5
    I am very surprised that Allen and KWill have not been resigned or restructured! I would look at resigning them to nice extensions lowering the cap hit, BUT....
    If you let them and Robison play this year and then do not resign them, they are probably close to $40 million in cap space this year !!!
    Have to plan for the future and that's a lot of cash that this team needs to compete !

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by IIsweet View Post
    I am very surprised that Allen and KWill have not been resigned or restructured! I would look at resigning them to nice extensions lowering the cap hit, BUT....
    If you let them and Robison play this year and then do not resign them, they are probably close to $40 million in cap space this year !!!
    Have to plan for the future and that's a lot of cash that this team needs to compete !
    Maybe those re-structurings are under discussion now...clearly with Allen and Williams something will need to happen, though I guess It doesn't have to happen this year. But it would be nice to clearl some more cap space so we can get Winfield back with a fair deal.

  7. #7
    I don't know what is giving me this feeling, but I have a feeling we will draft anything but WR in round 1. I'm not completely against that now that we have Jennings but it really depends on who is there. I hope we don't overreach for a ILB or DT there though. I was all about getting a DT in FA but it looks like that ship has sailed. I still think there will be a good DT in round two or beyond. I just don't think it's necessary to get a DT in round one.

    Like we've mentioned before, CB in the first round for us is as rare as a freshly killed steer. I wouldn't mind one, I just don't think it's happening. Our defense has never valued coverage ability, and if you're drafting a pure zone corner you shouldn't spend a first on him.

    I think we're going to be relying on too many rookies next season.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyperborean View Post
    I don't know what is giving me this feeling, but I have a feeling we will draft anything but WR in round 1. I'm not completely against that now that we have Jennings but it really depends on who is there. I hope we don't overreach for a ILB or DT there though. I was all about getting a DT in FA but it looks like that ship has sailed. I still think there will be a good DT in round two or beyond. I just don't think it's necessary to get a DT in round one.

    Like we've mentioned before, CB in the first round for us is as rare as a freshly killed steer. I wouldn't mind one, I just don't think it's happening. Our defense has never valued coverage ability, and if you're drafting a pure zone corner you shouldn't spend a first on him.

    I think we're going to be relying on too many rookies next season.
    I think the problem is where the WRs fall. It's possible, if not likely, Patterson, Austin, and Allen are all gone before pick #23 (depending upon how Allen does in his workout day). Hopkins, Hunter, Woods, and Williams are all rated 2nd round talent, but all four could go before we pick at #52. Hence the concern.

    I think we'll stay true to our board. As we have all said, we'd like to be able to trade down from our 1st round position (either #23 or #25) so we could collect an extra pick, and still get one of the four I mentioned above, I'd rate Hopkins the best of the four.

    It's possible that Allen falls to us in the first round, or they could even reach and take Woods there, though I think the Ponder pick (and Troy Williamson) have made us cautious about reaching so more likely we will stick to our board.

    So I think we'll be true to our board. Assuming it looks like many of the others out there....then indeed it's likely we take a linebacker (Ogletree or Teo) and a DT in the first round, as that's what looks to be falling to us then. And as both are needs, I suspect we'll take them.

    If we don't get the trade down option, and we start to see a run on WRs in the 2nd round, I could easily see us trading up to make sure we get one of Hopkins, Hunter, Williams, or Woods. We have 11 picks, and are not likely to use all of them anyway. So I still think we'll get WR by the end of round 2.

    Agree with you it's unlikely we draft CB in the 1st round unless just incredible value was there. They are high on Cook, Jefferson, and Robinson, and there is still a chance Winfield comes back. But Cook is RFA next year, Jefferson is a free agent I believe, even if Winfield comes back he won't stay for the 2014 season...so they will take a corner by latest early in the 4th round in my opinion.

  9. #9
    Wonder why we didn't offer Brent Grimes a 1-year deal instead of the Dolphins? I just don't get not signing any FAs when we have holes everywhere. How many rookies can a team start?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyperborean View Post
    Wonder why we didn't offer Brent Grimes a 1-year deal instead of the Dolphins? I just don't get not signing any FAs when we have holes everywhere. How many rookies can a team start?
    I'm starting to think it's because we don't have the cap space. It's been mentioned we only have $5myn left, and we still need to sign our rookie and UDFA class. So we don't have a ton of room, and if Winfield comes back we have nothing. So maybe that's why they haven't targeted anyone in FA.

    Does highlight they need some further restructuring if we don't want to pursue anyone else.

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