THIS IS IT! Get your game face on boy, the show's about to begin! Get focused, keep light on your toes son, it's YOUR time to shine! CUP CHECK!!!
(Don't ask. It was a tradition. Fighter stables have odd traditions.)
Anyways- you all remember back when the CBA first expired, I panicked and wrote a story regarding how Free Agency was potentially starting soon. Wait, what, you DON'T remember? You mean... gasp... no one's paying attention to me yet?!
Anyways, it turned out to be a bit overblown, I'll admit. But have I learned from my mistake? No, I'm thick in the skull-bone. We're doing it again- it's FREE AGENCY TIME!
OK, so to be fair, just as with the last false alarm I sounded, this one could end up being the same. Despite midnight having come and gone, free agency hasn't opened. It's possible that there will be a stay on the matter sometime within the next 24 hours, although, to be honest, I don't think Judge Nelson is inclined to grant such a request.
It is also my understanding that, in fact, the owners have the ability to take their time agreeing to which rules FA will be conducted, thereby extending the process. HOWEVER, this strategy comes at great risk- they could be held in contempt of court if they push it too far.
I'm imagining that ideally, the owners would at LEAST like to push it back until after Draft Day, seeing as how most teams have prepped for the draft without FA in mind. It would keep several war rooms from exploding in flames, which is generally a good thing. (Can't lie, wouldn't mind if that happened in Green Bay though.) However, now you're talking about pushing implementation of a court order back pretty much one full week, give or take a day depending if the owners want to actually start on a Sunday. That's pretty gutsy when the NFL is also trying to appeal said ruling. Not that the league hasn't shown it's thick-headed, "we are your overlords" approach to all this already, but one has to believe that they just got enough of a humble pill jammed down their throats to rethink that strategy. And to be fair, if any NFL FO didn't at least have some sort of a rough draft sketched out as far as a contingency plan for this, well... they're dumb.
So, OK, there's the background. Onto the Vikings, which is why we're all here. Let's figure the two scenarios- that FA happens just before the draft (as in, potentially within 24 hours), and that FA happens after the draft. (Yes, there's the third option of ‘there's a stay, no FA yet at all', but there's no fun writing that.) We'll address the first scenario here.
How would this potentially impact our draft strategy? It's notable that while Frazier made a bit of a CFL/UFL raid early in the postseason (and with Lorenzo Booker late in the regular season), he apparently didn't so much as bat an eyebrow when several players became available shortly before the CBA expired. Granted, there weren't your ‘Nmandi Asomugha' (sp? I think I got that right) level of star power, but there were a few guys I was surprised we didn't at least take out to dinner-Oshiomogho Atogwe* in particular comes to mind. (*What IS it with guys in the secondary and hard to write names? Can't there be a Bill Jones out there somewhere?!) Could this be an indication that Frazier and co. would prefer to NOT tap the FA market as heavily as we have at times in the past?
Let's also keep in mind that several players- particularly at QB- will NOT be available during this time (or, at least, most likely will not). Players like Vince Young and Donovan McNabb, who are not scheduled to become FAs; remember, they're just ‘scheduled to be cut'. That means they're not necessarily going to be available anytime soon. However, look for teams to take trade offers now for these kind of players- in particular, I would imagine the Eagles will market Kevin Kolb now like Charlie Sheen markets wisdom. (Oh, right, we weren't going to mention him anymore. My bad.)
You see, this is ANOTHER interesting point that's being a little lost here- if FA happens before the draft... so can trades for players with picks. Hmmm. Now, I will be sorely peeved if the Vikings even so much as THINK of trading #12 for a player, even if it were Payton Manning. Having only one pick in the first three rounds is not a good start to reloading a franchise. But, what about perhaps players we could trade for picks? Of course, most of us would like to get our third rounder back while also cutting that Bernard Berrian guy loose. Pipe dream...? Explore this idea further in the comments below. Others here would want to go superstar with it and trade away AP/ Jared Allen. (Not a fan of either idea, but they both get enough mileage that they deserve mention here.)
So, alright, let's wrap this whole potential false alarm 2.0 story up. Here's the things we should be discussing below- if there's FA before the draft, who would you like to go for? (Unless you are against Asomugha, just leave him out of it- yes, we all want him. Let's get creative.) And also, what potential trades could we be making to get some additional draft picks, in particular recouping that third rounder? (On that one- let's keep it realistic. Yes, we all would love to get the Panthers first rounder for Albert Young. I just don't see that happening.)
Sound off, Viking faithful.