It seems to me that a lot of the disagreement around here on questions like whether to trade Jared Allen turn on a lack of agreement about the team's prospects and future. Some see nothing good happening for a number of years, and thus think anyone who's not a young player has little future value. Others disagree.
So I thought, let's try and work up a plan. I'm sure once I write it, you will all instantly agree, because that's just how sports blogs and the internet work. It's a consensus building exercise, and all it's missing is a few trust falls.
Anyway, moving on. Every organization needs goals and plan to achieve those goal. My sketch of goals, strategy and benchmarks after the jump.
So, goals. I think we can all agree that the ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl as soon as possible. That's great and all, but Super Bowl teams don't just spring up out of the ashes left after a dumpster fire, so I think we need some intermediate steps to be able to get there. I think those intermediate goals have to be informed about what's possible and when (leading to a bit of a chicken and egg situation), but here's what I think is reasonable and the Wilf's should expect.
1. From here, year-over-year improvement each year
2. Return to the playoffs after the 2013 season
3. Compete for division championship no later than the 2014 season
4. Win at least one playoff game before the 2015 post-season
With that, let's look at the minimum that the Wilf's should expect each year:
2012 Off Season
Required personnel moves:
1. LT: 1st or 2nd round
2. CB: 1st or 2nd round
3. S: rounds 2-4
4. #1 WR: most likely FA, or rounds 2-4.
5. DT: mid-round or FA
6. Define the guard positions: Johnson, Fusco, Love, Berger or FA.
Assumptions: Steve Hutchinson and Visanthe Shianco will not be back. Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook will be. There will be no major trades (i.e., trades involving Jared Allen). Adrian Peterson returns before mid-season. Toby Gerhart is ready by the beginning of the regular season (probably sooner).
Benchmark: These moves, which are easily doable, coupled with some continued development from Ponder and Webb, should produce a team that is capable of 6-8 wins. Any result that fails to meet those expectations will result in major changes in coaching staff and/or front office.
2013 Off Season
Personnel moves: It's harder to be specific the expected moves farther out in the future, but agenda items includes a re-assessment of the quarterback position, the addition of another corner back (as Winfield is likely not returning at this stage), another safety, re-assessment of Phil Loadholt and perhaps addressing RT high in the draft, re-assessment of the guard positions, upgrade at MLB (on the bubble for the 2012 plan), evaluate whether upgrades are needed at OLB.
Assumptions: Obviously, if we missed the 2012 goals, things will look a lot different. But assuming that isn't the case, the real question mark here is how the quarterback position will develop. But it should not be difficult to address RT and LB as needed.
Benchmark: 8-11 wins and a playoff appearance.
So, people, where as I wrong?