Let me make this perfectly, crystal clear:
WHO'S READY FOR FOOTBALL????!!!!!! WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
Okay, now that that is out of the way, with the rush to sign free agents, inexperience at quarterback, and multiple needs ate several positions, the Vikings might be one step behind the rest of the league once training camp begins.
Let's look at some of the weird quirky things that will apply to this league year, and see how that affects the Vikings.
QB: Well, we all know that the Vikings want Christian Ponder to be the quarterback of the future, and if Leslie Frazier had his way, the future will begin in San Diego for the season opener. That seemed a lot more plausible if there had been a full off season of OTA's, minicamps, and a normal length of time for training camp. Obviously, that's all changed, and Ponder will have to learn a new offense under a very compressed schedule. Can he do it?
Well, with a mom who has a maiden name of SuperBowlWinner, I wouldn't bet against him.
Free Agents: Tom Pelissero, the great Vikings beat guy at 1500 ESPN, broke down what the deal is in regards to signing free agents:
"Veteran players who sign Player Contracts on or after (5 p.m. Friday) shall be required to report to, and remain with, their Clubs," the calendar read, "except that, prior to the start of the 2011 League Year on August 4, such players may not participate in on-field activities, workouts, weight training or other physical activities, but shall be required to attend meetings, classroom instruction and any other non-physical activities scheduled during the Club's preseason training camp."
What does that mean? That means although teams can sign free agents to contracts starting the 27th, those players must repoort to their team, but may not participate in any team activities like...oh, I don't know...practice, until August 4th, which is when the league year begins. So basically, the Vikings first practice is on Monday the 1st, but newly signed free agents can't participate until the 4th. Weird. This rule doesn't apply to rookies or undrafted rookies that sign a free agent contract, so Ponder might actually get a slight advantage over a veteran that signs late this week.
Right now, the Vikings have 19 unsigned free agents:
Unrestricted: WR Hank Baskett, OL Ryan Cook, DE Ray Edwards, DT Fred Evans, QB Brett Favre, S Eric Frampton, QB Tarvaris Jackson, LB Ben Leber, WR Greg Lewis, K Ryan Longwell, QB Patrick Ramsey, WR Sidney Rice, CB Lito Sheppard, FB Naufahu Tahi, CB Frank Walker, NT Pat Williams.
Exclusive rights (not tendered): HB Albert Young.
I'm thinking, off the top of my head, Cook, Lewis, Longwell, Tahi, Walker, Abdullah and Henderson are fairly certain to be back. Frampton, Rice, Leber and Pat WIlliams are 'maybes', and everyone else is pretty much gone, but I'll readily admit I'm spitballing on this.
These next few days are going to be absolute madness, and I can't wait.