Off Season Plan v1.0

Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE

Well, the Vikings had a very surprising season. I think they did very well all things considered. To finish the season 10-6 and make the playoffs was impressive. The players, coaches, and front office all deserve praise for the jobs they performed. We all wish it would have ended differently but making the playoffs was a very welcome change considering the last two seasons. Now we can turn our sights to next year with expectations sure to be higher than they were at the start of this past season. The bar has been raised!

Obviously, the first course of action is looking at the in house free agents and other free agents. Rick Spielman has said he likes to keep his own players rather than go sign other unrestricted free agents.
http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_22355425/shooter-now-vikings-first-priority-is-keep-our

He makes good sense too. But there comes a time when you have to admit that your own free agent just is not going to get better and you might improve with another free agent. I am hoping they realize that much because there are some free agents that I would not resign unless I could not find anything better.

KJ wrote a piece on the free agents to be. I am just going to list who they are here.

Unrestricted Free Agents:
FB Jerome Felton
OT Phil Loadholt
S Jamarca Sanford
WR Devin Aromashodu
WR Jerome Simpson
OL Joe Berger
OG Geoff Schwartz
LB Jasper Brinkley
LB Erin Henderson
LB Marvin Mitchell

Restricted Free Agents:
OL Troy Kropog
CB AJ Jefferson

Exclusive Rights Free Agents:
CB Marcus Sherels
S Andrew Sendejo

Now that we know which players we need to replace either via the draft or free agency we have to look at how much money the team MAY have available. As this is never an exact science via the internet, I am just going to list what I was able to find. It may or may not be 100% accurate.

I found this item in regards to the cap space the Vikings have ...
http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2012/story/_/id/8822266/nfl-mailbag-carryover-rules-impact-cap-strategy

Apparently the team will have 16.1 mil (they are carrying over 8 mil from last year) under the cap even if it does nothing with it's own high priced players. I tried to cobble together the current numbers for players under contract. I got the information from spotrac and from 1500espn. You have to click on each player to see what spotrac thinks the signing bonus plus misc bonus numbers will be.

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/minnesota-vikings/yearly/
http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/Pelissero_Vikings_leaguelow_payroll_wont_become_part_of_a_trend091312

Player -- 2013/2014 -- SIGNING BONUS -- MISC BONUS -- 2013 CAP HIT
Jared Allen -- 14,280,612.00 -- 2,583,344.00 -- 1,000,000.00 -- 17,863,956.00
Adrian Peterson -- 11,250,000.00 -- 2,400,000.00 -- 250,000.00 -- 13,900,000.00
Chad Greenway -- 6,900,000.00 -- 1,700,000.00 -- 100,000.00 -- 8,700,000.00
Kevin Williams -- 7,000,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 1,000,000.00 -- 8,000,000.00
Antoine Winfield -- 7,200,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 7,200,000.00
Matt Kalil -- 1,288,663.00 -- 3,204,655.00 -- 0.00 -- 4,493,318.00
John Carlson -- 2,900,000.00 -- 1,250,000.00 -- 100,000.00 -- 4,250,000.00
John Sullivan -- 3,150,000.00 -- 1,000,000.00 -- 100,000.00 -- 4,250,000.00
Charlie Johnson -- 2,950,000.00 -- 600,000.00 -- 550,000.00 -- 4,100,000.00
Michael Jenkins -- 825,000.00 -- 666,666.00 -- 2,425,000.00 -- 3,916,666.00
Brian Robison -- 864,000.00 -- 2,166,667.00 -- 100,000.00 -- 3,130,667.00
Letroy Guion -- 2,450,000.00 -- 500,000.00 -- 50,000.00 -- 3,000,000.00
Christian Ponder -- 1,298,518.00 -- 1,472,036.00 -- 0.00 -- 2,770,554.00
Percy Harvin -- 1,550,000.00 -- 196,300.00 -- 932,500.00 -- 2,678,800.00
Harrison Smith -- 714,479.00 -- 907,918.00 -- 0.00 -- 1,622,397.00
Fred Evans -- 1,450,000.00 -- 50,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 1,500,000.00
Chris Kluwe -- 1,400,000.00 -- 50,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 1,450,000.00
Chris Cook -- 575,000.00 -- 575,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 1,150,000.00
Cullen Loeffler -- 915,000.00 -- 125,000.00 -- 10,000.00 -- 1,050,000.00
Kyle Rudolph -- 555,000.00 -- 466,791.00 -- 0.00 -- 1,021,791.00
Toby Gerhart -- 575,000.00 -- 371,000.00 -- 25,000.00 -- 971,000.00
Everson Griffen -- 575,000.00 -- 135,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 710,000.00
Josh Robinson -- 480,000.00 -- 174,250.00 -- 10,000.00 -- 664,250.00
Christian Ballard -- 555,000.00 -- 101,888.00 -- 0.00 -- 656,888.00
George Johnson -- 630,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 630,000.00
Joe Webb -- 575,000.00 -- 23,128.00 -- 0.00 -- 598,128.00
Brandon Burton -- 555,000.00 -- 42,250.00 -- 0.00 -- 597,250.00
Jarius Wright -- 480,000.00 -- 105,027.00 -- 0.00 -- 585,027.00
DeMarcus Love -- 555,000.00 -- 25,055.00 -- 0.00 -- 580,055.00
Mistral Raymond -- 555,000.00 -- 24,483.00 -- 0.00 -- 579,483.00
Brandon Fusco -- 555,000.00 -- 23,556.00 -- 0.00 -- 578,556.00
D'Aundre Reed -- 555,000.00 -- 12,563.00 -- 0.00 -- 567,563.00
Greg Childs -- 480,000.00 -- 75,146.00 -- 0.00 -- 555,146.00
Rhett Ellison -- 480,000.00 -- 75,146.00 -- 0.00 -- 555,146.00
Larry Dean -- 555,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 555,000.00
Tyrone McKenzie -- 555,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 555,000.00
Stephen Burton -- 555,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 555,000.00
Robert Blanton -- 480,000.00 -- 52,763.00 -- 0.00 -- 532,763.00
Blair Walsh -- 480,000.00 -- 29,483.00 -- 0.00 -- 509,483.00
Audie Cole -- 480,000.00 -- 16,875.00 -- 0.00 -- 496,875.00
McLeod Bethel-Thompson -- 480,000.00 -- 2,500.00 -- 0.00 -- 482,500.00
Matt Asiata -- 480,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 480,000.00
Bobby Felder -- 405,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 405,000.00
Chase Baker -- 405,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 405,000.00
Chase Ford -- 405,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 405,000.00
Chris Summers -- 405,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 405,000.00
Joe Banyard -- 405,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 405,000.00
Kevin Murphy -- 405,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 405,000.00
Lamark Brown -- 405,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 405,000.00
Tyler Holmes -- 405,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 405,000.00
Greg McCoy -- 405,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 405,000.00
Joe Conley -- 405,000.00 -- 0.00 -- 0.00 -- 405,000.00
Total -- 85,236,272.00 -- 21,204,490.00 -- 6,652,500.00 -- 113,093,262.00

Let me say first that the numbers could be off but this is where I found the information. Also, while spotrac is widely believed to be the most accurate they did have Troy Kropog under contract next year for 630K when it appears he is actually a RFA. Here is an article put out today ...

http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/Pelissero_Vikings_have_plenty_of_cap_space_if_they_choose_to_use_it011013?t=2

In here Tom P states that Winfield earned an additional 2.5 mil this year via playing time incentives. And he says the Vikings should have around 12.3 mil available under the cap to sign free agents including their own. I guess the 8 mil carry over is reduced by 2.5 mil. I am not sure where else some money may need to be subtracted. Regardless, let us just use the 12.3 mil number for arguments sake.

Combining spotrac with 1500espn seemed like it would be fairly close. But please feel free to correct any numbers.

So when we look to free agency we first need to decide who to restructure or even release.

Right off the bat, I would hope that the team would talk to Allen about a contract extension. There is no use asking him to "restructure" because that is basically saying you want him to take a pay cut. Personally I think it is time to trade him. In this plan he is getting traded. Sorry.

I think a team that could show interest is Seattle. They had 13.2 mil in cap space as of Sept 7th this year.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/09/08/team-by-team-cap-space-as-of-september-7/

Seattle is going to need a DE since Chris Clemons tore up his ACL on that crappy field in Washington this past weekend. He will be lucky to be ready by opening day. There are very few APs running around. Clemons contract is here ...

7/23/2012: Signed a three-year, $22 million contract. The deal contains $10 million guaranteed -- a $6.5 million signing bonus, Clemons' first-year base salary, and $1.5 million of his second-year salary. Another $4 million is available through sack-based escalators. 2012: $2 million, 2013: $6 million, 2014: $7.5 million, 2015: Free Agent

If Seattle decided to let him go since he is due 6 mil next year it looks like it will cost them close to 6 mil in dead money (unable to use cap space).

They may be able to fit Allen into their cap provided he signs an extension that lowers his current 14.28 plus cap number for next year (spotrac has it at 17.863 mil). Now here is where there seems to be differing opinions. I found an article that states the signing bonuses can only be spread out over 5 years.

http://www.askthecommish.com/SalaryCap/faq.aspx

An expression that was thrown about repeatedly during the various labor meetings is "cash over cap". Well, these signing bonuses are what insiders were talking about, when they brought up that term. One of the things that held up negotiations amongst the owners with the last CBA extension (both back in 2006 and in 2011) was the move to place some kind of cap on the amount of signing bonus money that could be pushed into future years for cap accounting purposes. Although there was no cap on signing bonuses, there was a limit put in place that signing bonuses could only be prorated for up to five (5) years. With the latest CBA, that five-year figure remains unchanged.

I believe that Allen's signing bonus has already depreciated in full. This is the last year of his 6 year deal and thus there is no extra cap hit for his signing bonus. Still, 15.28 mil is too much as well.

So lets say Seattle is a logical fit and a team that Allen would sign an extension. What would they give up? I doubt they give up their first. I think the best you could hope for is their 2nd and a 5th or a future conditional 3rd or 4th.

Another option with Allen would be to offer him a 5 year 50 mil deal with 25 mil guaranteed with a 10 mil signing bonus. I would structure it something like this ...

Year - Salary - Signing Bonus - Cap Hit - Age
2013 - 4,000,000 - 2,000,000 - 6,000,000 - 31
2014 - 7,000,000 - 2,000,000 - 9,000,000 - 32
2015 - 8,000,000 - 2,000,000 - 10,000,000 - 33
2016 - 10,000,000 - 2,000,000 - 12,000,000 - 34
2017 - 11,000,000 - 2,000,000 - 13,000,000 - 35
Total - 40,000,000 - 10,000,000 - 50,000,000

If you want to keep Allen beyond 2013 then I think the time to extend is right now. In this scenario he will still get 14 mil this year which is slightly less than what is in his current contract. That seems fair since the current contract is not guaranteed. Also, after 3 seasons when he is going to turn 34, the team can release him (if necessary) and only take a cap hit of 4 mil but will not owe him anything else.

Next you have to look at Kevin Williams. There is no way the team should pay him that 7 mil. He approached the team about an extension prior to this season indicating he is very aware of how the game is played ...
http://www.dailynorseman.com/2012/7/3/3136277/kevin-williams-approaches-vikings-about-contract-extension

He had a down year by his standards. He finished with 30 tackles, 2 sacks, and 7 passes defended. I cannot say if that is worth 7 mil to the Vikings. In this plan it is not.

Here are some contract numbers for players who recently signed extensions ...

Brodrick Bunkley 6'2" 306 (29 yeard sold - 11/23/1983)
3/21/2012: Signed a five-year, $25 million contract. The deal contains $9.9 million guaranteed, including a $4.5 million signing bonus and all of Bunkley's first two base salaries. Bunkley is eligible for annual $100,000 workout bonuses in years two through five. 2013: $3.7 million, 2014-2016: $4.4 million, 2017: Free Agent

Antonio Garay 6'4" 320 (33 years old - 11/30/1979)
3/29/2012: Signed a two-year, $8.1 million contract. The deal contains $2.275 million in bonus money. 2013: $3.5 million (+ $1.5 million roster bonus), 2014: Free Agent

Cullen Jenkins 6'2" 305 (31 years old - 1/20/1981)
7/30/2011: Signed a five-year, $30.375 million contract. The deal included no signing bonus. Jenkins' 2012-2013 base salaries were guaranteed after a restructuring on 2/21/2012. 2013: $1.5 million (+ $1 million roster bonus due in March), 2014: $4.5 million (+ $2 million roster bonus), 2015: $6 million, 2016: Free Agent

Kendall Langford 6'6" 308 (26 years old - 1/27/1986)
3/17/2012: Signed a four-year, $24 million contract. The deal contains $12 million guaranteed, including a $4 million signing bonus. 2013-2014: $5 million, 2015: $6 million, 2016: Free Agent

Paul Soliai 6'4" 355 (29 years old - 12/30/1983)
3/14/2012: Signed a two-year, $12 million contract. The deal included a $3.85 million signing bonus. 2013: $5.7 million, 2014: Free Agent

Ron Edwards 6'3" 315 (33 years old - 7/12/1979)
7/29/2011: Signed a three-year, $8.25 million contract. The deal included a $2.5 million signing bonus. 2013: $2.15 million (+ $350,000 roster bonus), 2014: Free Agent

Sione Pouha 6'3" 325 (33 years old - 2/3/1979)
3/12/2012: Signed a three-year, $15 million contract. The deal contains $9.5 million guaranteed, including a $3.5 million signing bonus. An annual $100,000 workout bonus is available throughout the life of the deal. 2013: $4.9 million (guaranteed for injury only), 2014: $900,000 (+ $2 million roster bonus on seventh day of league year and $2.5 million 53-man roster bonus), 2015: Free Agent
...

I think if KWill would accept a 3 year 12 mil deal then maybe the team will keep him. Frazier has said he wants him to keep him for his "leadership" qualities. I don't know. It is tough because the other defensive tackles are not very good at all. They are younger and really are never going to be confused with KWill. But the team needs them and probably KWill too. I would still draw the line at 3 year 12 mil and probably would be more comfortable with a 2 year 8 mil deal.

His sack numbers for his career are 10.5, 11.5, 4.0, 5.0, 3.0, 8.5, 6.0, 1.0, 5.0, & 2.0. He averages about 43 tackles and 6 passes defended per year. He has been durable and very fortunate to not have suffered any kind of significant injury that caused him to miss games. Knock on wood.

I think it all depends on free agency. If the Vikings can sign a Henry Melton in free agency then it could be adios muchacho.

Next you have Antoine Winfield who played well enough this year to push his salary back up to 7 mil for 2013.
http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_22259391/vikings-antoine-winfields-resurgence-pays-off-maybe-too

The question becomes is that too much for a CB who is going to be 36 to start the season?

Here are some contract numbers of other older corners ...

Charles Woodson 6'1" 202 (36 years old - 10/7/1976)
9/9/2010: Signed a five-year, $55 million contract. The deal included $21 million in advances and bonuses. 2012: $6.5 million (+ $4 million roster bonus due in April + $1 million in per-game roster bonuses + $1.063 million in possible incentives), 2013-2014: $6.5 million (+ $2.5 million roster bonus + $1 million in per-game roster bonuses), 2015: Free Agent

Champ Bailey 6'0" 192 (34 years old - 6/22/1978)
2/22/2011: Signed a four-year, $43 million contract. The deal contains $15 million guaranteed, including a $5 million first-year bonus, all of Bailey's first-year salary, and $4 million of his second-year salary. An additional $7 million is guaranteed for injury only. Bailey is eligible for annual $500,000 workout bonuses. Another $4 million is available through Pro Bowl incentives. 2012: $8 million (+ $3 million roster bonus due 3/15), 2013-2014: $9 million (+ $1 million roster bonus), 2015: Free Agent

Carlos Rogers 6'0" 192 (31 years old - 7/2/1981)
3/13/2012: Signed a four-year, $29.3 million contract. The deal included a $5 million signing bonus. Another $2 million is available through incentives. An annual $100,000 workout bonus and $250,000 roster bonus is available throughout the life of the deal. 2012: $840,000 (+ $3.06 million "signing" bonus), 2013: $5.5 million, 2014: $6.25 million, 2015: $7.25 million, 2016: Free Agent

Aaron Ross 6'0" 190 (30 years old - 9/15/1982)
3/20/2012: Signed a three-year, $9.75 million contract. The deal included a $1 million signing bonus and a first-year roster bonus of $250,000. Another $5.25 million is available through incentives. 2013: $2.2 million (+ $1.5 million roster bonus), 2014: $3.7 million, 2015: Free Agent

Asante Samuel 5'10" 185 (32 years old - 1/6/1981)
4/25/2012: Signed a three-year, $14.5 million contract. The deal included an initial $2.25 million prorated option bonus. Another $4 million is available through escalators based on Pro Bowl berths and interceptions. 2012: $1.25 million (+ $1 million in per-game roster bonuses), 2013: $3 million (+ $750,000 roster bonus due in September + $1 million in per-game roster bonuses), 2014: $3.5 million (+ $750,000 roster bonus due in September + $1 million in per-game roster bonuses), 2015: Free Agent
...

This is a tough call. I think the Vikings should ask him what does he think about playing another year after 2013. If he wants to go for two years then perhaps he would be willing to sign a 2 year 12 mil deal with 7 mil guaranteed. On the other hand he did get hurt yet again this year. Who knows if his body will hold up? What happens if he hurts himself like he did in 2011 and then has to miss the majority of the season? The team will have spent a lot of money.

I am not sure what I would do but I want to try and sign a younger corner. I like Dominque Rogers-Cromartie, Keenan Lewis, and Derek Cox in that order. If I let Winfield go and get one of these other corners then I like that backfield. Cook, Lewis, Robinson, & Jefferson.

Note: After watching Woodson and Bailey in the playoff games this weekend I am very hesitant to just pay Winfield for one more year.

Next I have to think about Carlson (unfortunately). Would I want to pay him another 2.9 mil next year? The cap hit will be 4.25 mil. That is a lot of money for a dude who only caught 8 passes for 43 yards and zero TDs this past season. I think that if they cut or traded him they still would take a 4 mil cap hit according to Tom P. So they may as well keep him and hope (and pray) that he could do something. Anything.

Next I have to think about Charlie Johnson. His cap hit is going to be 4.1 mil and it will be the last year of his deal. While he did OK this year, I am not sure I want to pay him that much money. Maybe they talk to him about an extension? I would like him as a utility backup but he may still want to start and there could be other teams interested. This is tough. I think I leave him because Spielman wants continuity with the offensive line. I still am in favor of upgrading.

Next is Michael Jenkins. He restructured his contract in August but has a 2.425 roster bonus due 5 days after the new league year begins. Unless he restructures again I would be very surprised if the Vikings paid him that money this March. I have to let him go and take a 666K cap hit.
http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/Source_Michael_Jenkins_takes_pay_cut_in_hopes_of_staying_with_Vikings081412

Next I would think about signing Jerome Felton to a new deal. Here are what some of the top fullbacks have received ...

Vonta Leach 6'0" 260 (31 years old - 11/6/1981)
7/31/2011: Signed a three-year, $11 million contract. The deal contains $6 million guaranteed, including a $4 million signing bonus. 2012-2013: $3 million, 2014: Free Agent

Le'Ron McClain 6'0" 260 (28 years old - 12/27/1984)
3/14/2012: Signed a three-year, $8.25 million contract. The deal contains $3 million guaranteed, including a $2 million signing bonus and McClain's first-year salary. 2013: $2.25 million, 2014: $2.5 million, 2015: Free Agent

John Kuhn 6'0" 250 (30 years old - 9/9/1982)
7/31/2011: Signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract. The deal included a $750,000 signing bonus and a first-year roster bonus of $1.45 million. Kuhn is eligible for $100,000 workout bonuses in seasons two and three. 2012: $1.6 million (+ $450,000 roster bonus), 2013: $1.8 million (+ $450,000 roster bonus), 2014: Free Agent

Mike Tolbert 5'11" 243 (27 years old - 11/23/1985)
3/19/2012: Signed a four-year, $8.4 million contract. The deal contains $2.7 million guaranteed -- a $2 million signing bonus and all of Tolbert's 2012 base salary. Another $1.6 million is available through incentives. Tolbert is eligible for annual $25,000 workout bonuses throughout the contract's life. 2013: $1 million (+ $1.5 million option bonus), 2014: $2.3 million, 2015: $2.4 million, 2016: Free Agent

... after seeing these numbers I do not think I would give Felton that much cheddar. Sure he made the Pro Bowl but that was mainly due to his blocking for AP which obviously helped a lot. But AP is a freak and can probably get his yards with most anybody blocking. Felton had no carries and only caught 3 passes all year. Granted the offense was tailored around AP but come on. He was with Detroit, Carolina, and Indianapolis before he got here. I just cant see paying a full back that much money unless he can run and/or catch.

Finally here is what pff said about Felton whom they named to the All NFC North team ...

The biggest competition Felton faced in this division was from his own teammate Rhett Ellison, who actually finished the year with a better run-blocking grade. Ellison only missed out because of a lack of playing time.

... I think I pass on signing Felton. I know Spielman wants to so they are going to try. But he really has not done anything before he got here. So how much do you want to pay someone to block? If he is willing to work for about 2 mil per year then maybe.

Next I would think about signing Jamarca Sanford. While I would love to get a Jarius Byrd it is not going to happen. Buffalo will franchise him if they have to because the number is only 6.7 mil. Teams did it last year with their safeties. I like William Moore from Atlanta, Dashon Goldson from San Francisco, and Chris Clemons from Miami (could get tagged too). Maybe even Laron Landry. But these guys are going to want to get paid. Sanford may be cheaper. Although, I believe he deserves to start and not get rotated with Raymond. I believe the team wants Raymond to win the job. If I am Sanford I am going to test the market to see if I can get a chance to start.

Lastly, I do not like Letroy Guions' number either but I cannot cut everybody. They need to keep some high salaries just to meet the mandatory cap spend of 89%. They really should be closer to 95% as well.

So now that I have bored you to death with all these details I can get to my plan.

First I would try and sign Phil Loadholt to a good deal. Here some numbers of offensive linemen who recently signed new deals ..

Duane Brown 6'4" 320 (27 years old - 8/30/1985)
8/16/2012: Signed a seven-year, $56.2 million contract. The deal contains $22.08 million guaranteed, including a $12.5 million signing bonus. 2012: $1,081,500, 2013: $2.5 million, 2014: $6 million, 2015-16: $7 million, 2017: $9.65 million, 2018: $9.75 million, 2019: Free Agent

Levi Brown 6'6" 324 (28 years old - 3/16/1984)
3/15/2012: Signed a five-year, $30 million contract. The deal contains $8 million guaranteed -- a $7 million signing bonus and Brown's first-year base salary. Brown is eligible for annual $250,000 workout bonuses throughout the contract's life. 2013: $4.75 million, 2014: $6 million, 2015-2016: $5 million, 2017: Free Agent

Todd Herremans 6'6" 321 (30 years old - 10/13/1982)
3/13/2012: Signed a five-year, $27.1 million contract. The deal contains $11 million guaranteed, including a $6 million signing bonus. 2013-14: $3 million, 2015-2016: $4 million, 2017: Free Agent

T.J. Lang 6'4" 318 (25 years old - 9/20/1987)
8/13/2012: Signed a five-year, $22.06 million contract. The deal included a $5.5 million signing bonus. Lang is eligible for annual $200,000 workout bonuses and $300,000 roster bonuses in years two through five. Another $250,000 is available through a Pro Bowl escalator. 2012: $760,000, 2013: $750,000 (+ $750,000 roster bonus), 2014: $3.5 million, 2015: $4.2 million, 2016: $4.6 million, 2017: Free Agent

John Sullivan 6'4" 301 (27 years old - 8/8/1985)
12/17/2011: Signed a six-year, $25.6 million contract. The deal contains $10 million guaranteed, including a $5 million signing bonus. An annual $100,000 workout bonus is available in years three through six. 2013: $3.15 million, 2014: $3.65 million, 2015-2016: $4.65 million, 2017: Free Agent

Eric Winston 6'7" 302 (29 years old - 11/17/1983)
3/17/2012: Signed a four-year, $22 million contract. The deal contains $8.4 million in bonus money. 2013: $4.9 million, 2014-2015: $3.9 million, 2016: Free Agent

So what is it going to take to sign Loadholt? He is only 26. Keep in mind the offfensive line Franchise tag number is going to be about $9.66 mil and the Transition tag number is going to be $8.56 mil. Profootballfocus has him as the 6th rated tackle. https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/01/01/free-agent-offensive-tackles/

You would hope the deal that Sullivan signed will get it done. I think it is going to take more. I am thinking it has to be north of the Levi Brown contract. Loadholt will be in demand from teams that want to run the ball. I think a 6 year 27.5 mil deal with 11 mil guaranteed and a signing bonus of 7 mil may get the job done.

That would be it for me besides giving the RFA and ERFA guys minimum non guaranteed deals.

I would only sign Loadholt before free agency starts if possible. That would be my goal. I would let the rest hit the market and see what kind of deals they can get and what kind of role they will have with that new team. After I combed through the market, then I would consider bringing back some of the other players including Brinkley and Henderson.

Wow. This is taking some time. It is OK though. Once I do it once I do not have to redo the work. I can use it as a guide for reference. If you made it this far then there is not much farther to go (I think).

So here is my plan ...

1. Trade Jared Allen to Seattle for their 2nd (#56) and 5th (#152) round pick.

2. Trade Toby Gerhart to the Cincinnati Bengals for their 4th round pick #114.

3. Sign Desmond Bryant DT 6'6" 311 (27 years old - 12/15/1985) to a 4 year 24 mil deal. See Kendall Langford's deal last year.

4. Sign Glover Quin FS 6'0" 209 (26 years old - 1/15/1986) to a 5 year 25 mil deal.

5. Sign James Casey FB 6'3" 243 (28 years old - 9/22/1984) to a 3 year 8.5 mil deal.

6. Sign Keenan Lewis CB 6'0" 208 (26 years old - 5/17/1986) to a 5 year 28 mil deal.

7. Sign Phillip Wheeler LB 6'1" 240 (28 years old - 12/12/1984) to a 4 year 18 mil deal.

8. Sign Brad Jones LB 6'3" 232 (26 years old -4/1/1986) to a 4 year 14 mil deal.

9. Sign Louis Vasquez OG 6'5" 335 (25 years old -4/11/1987) to a 5 year 20 mil deal

10. Sign Domenik Hixon WR 6'2" 197 (28 years old - 10/8/1984) to a 3 year 8 mil deal

11. Sign Percy Harvin to a 5 year 52 mil deal with 23 mil guaranteed and a 12 mil signing bonus.

12. Release Chris Kluwe

If KWill is willing to play for 4 mil (maybe 5) per year then I would keep him. I think I would probably just let Winfield play out his deal at 7.2 mil. He has earned it.

I think it is a good start. The salary cap could be at 107 mil depending on how they structure the new deals. There is still money to extend Griffen, Cook, & Robison prior to the end of 2013.

Perhaps it would be better to trade Robison and extend Allen? If you could get Allen's number down to about 9 or 10 mil per year then that would be good. But you would not get as high a pick for Robison and I could be thinking too high on Allen too. For now I am going to leave it as is.


So now we finally get to the draft which was really the only thing I wanted to write about. The Vikings will have these picks in this fantasy plan ...
23,53,56,85,99,114,117,149,166,199,212

Note: the trade with Arizona for AJ Jefferson was just a swap of picks somewhere in the draft per Spielman
http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/QA_with_Vikings_GM_Rick_Spielman_A_real_bitter_taste_from_playoffs011013

What did you end up giving Arizona for cornerback A.J. Jefferson?
"It was just a flop of picks, in one through seven. There's a specific flop in there somewhere between one and seven."

Obviously the need is still there for a WR. If KWill leaves then another DT will be needed. A LB or two would be good. A RB, QB, CB, DE, P, and S would be good as well.

So here goes ...

23. *Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri rJr 6-3 295
I had to think about this for a while but he could last until 23. I think some WRs like Allen, Patterson, and even Austin could be off the board by 23 too allowing Richardson to drop. I think the Vikings are NOT looking for the big run stuffer that fans want. I think that PWill kind of messed with the minds of Vikings fans. There just are not that many Pat Williams out there. There may be some that fans want to believe could be a Pat Williams. I just think the direction is to get quicker defensive linemen.

53. *Alexander Ogletree ILB Georgia Jr 6-3 234
Obviously this would be curious since I am picking up two LBs in free agency but they may not pan out and then Ogletree can work his way into the starting lineup. Also, Greenway turns 30 today. He has 3 years left on his deal. He will be 32 in that last year. The team may want to think about the future. Lastly, the backups we have now really are only special teams type except for Cole who may be able to start one day. Maybe.
** I may have to trade up about 10 spots to get Ogletree. Last year the Rams traded #45 to Chicago for #50 & #150.

56. Quinton Patton WR Louisiana Tech rSr 6-2 195
Pattton has been a favorite of mine all year. I think he is very talented and has decent size and speed. I think getting another WR early is important even if I did sign Hixon as a free agent. We have to give young guys some time to develop.

85. Zac Dysert QB Miami (Ohio) rSr 6-3 228
Now this may seem high but the team needs to do something about the QB depth. This is not an indictment of Webb. I know a lot of posters think he is no good and all that jazz. I am not going into that discussion because it is fruitless. The fact is Webb will be a free agent after next year and may want to go elsewhere to try to get a starting job. Maybe that is myopic but it could be? Also, McLeod Bethel-Thompson has some tools but that is about all. He really does not have much of a resume at any level and is a longshot.

99. *William Gholston DE Michigan State Jr 6-6 278
Obviously, you have to start building back up the DE depth and looking for the next Allen. They are hard to find. I think Gholston has a lot of upside. All he needs is some more good coaching.

114. Brennan Williams OT North Carolina Sr 6-7 315 (from Lions)
Williams was considered a second round pick before he got injured. I think he would be really good value right here. There is no guarantee with Demarcus Love. I think Murphy, Kropog, and Holmes could be long shots too. I like having Williams as a backup swing tackle to start his career.

117. Denard Robinson WR Michigan Sr 5-11 197
I know. WTF? I think Robinson is too talented to not succeed. He already can run the ball out of the backfield but with his speed and excellent size, he could be an interesting project. Perhaps Connor Vernon would be better here? IF Stedman Bailey were here then I would take him for sure.

149. Devin Taylor DE South Carolina rSr 6-7 267
I like getting two DEs. I am not sure of Reed or George Johnson. Taylor has all the tools. If Cornellius Carradine is here I would think about taking him but since he tore his ACL Nov 29th it is not likely he will be ready to start the year. He probably goes on the PUP or IR for next year.

152. Sio Moore OLB Connecticut rSr 6-1 230
Moore is a good coverage LB and has good speed. Very productive at UConn.

167. Theo Riddick RB Notre Dame Sr 5-11 200 (from Titans)
I like Riddick. I did not like him when he played against my Trojans. That is for sure. But he played WR at Notre Dame when he first got there so he is very good catching the ball. I like that a lot. He seems like a good change of pace back.

199. *Tyrann Mathieu CB LSU Jr 5-09 178 (this is the swap pick with the Cardinals)
There is too much value here to let him slide any further. I think he would do well learning from Winfield for one year and then taking over that nickel corner role. He also can return punts too.

Trade. I would trade my 2014 6th round pick to the Patriots for their first 7th round pick #201.

201. Ryan Allen P Louisiana Tech rSr 6-2 215
First team All American punter and the Ray Guy award winner. Also, the left-footed specialist ranked fifth in the FBS in gross average (46.1 yards per punt, a school record) but led the nation with 39 punts inside the 20 and 22 punts inside the 10. Yeah I will take that over Kluwe. Plus I will save over 1 mil. Every little bit counts.

213. JJ Wilcox SS Georgia Southern Sr 6-0 215
We have to continue to add to the defensive backfield. Raymond has shown some promise. Sendejo is a try hard kind of player that may or may not stick with the team.

Here are some UDFAs I would target too

Zach Sudfeld TE Nevada rSr 6-6 255
Quanterus Smith DE Western Kentucky rSr 6-5 248
Braden Wilson FB Kansas State rSr 6-3 254
Jasper Collins WR Mount Union Sr 5-11 190
Kapron Lewis-Moore DT Notre Dame rSr 6-4 306
Keith Pough OLB Howard rSr 6-2 235
Cooper Taylor SS Richmond rSr 6-4 228
Michael Carter CB Minnesota Sr 5-11 189


If all of these moves happened then after the draft (not including the UDFAs) and free agency the roster will look like this ...

Pos -- First -- Second -- Third -- Fourth
QB -- Christian Ponder -- Joe Webb -- McLeod Bethel-Thompson -- Zac Dysert
RB -- Adrian Peterson -- Matt Asiata -- Joe Banyard -- Theo Riddick
FB -- James Casey -- Rhett Ellison
TE -- Kyle Rudolph -- John Carlson -- Chase Ford
WR -- Percy Harvin -- Jarius Wright -- Chris Summers -- Lamark Brown -- Dennard Robinson
WR -- Domenik Hixon -- Stephen Burton -- Greg Childs -- Quinton Patton
OT -- Matt Kalil -- DeMarcus Love -- Brennan Williams
OT -- Phil Loadholt -- Kevin Murphy
OG -- Brandon Fusco -- Troy Kropog -- Tyler Holmes
OG -- Louis Vasquez -- Charlie Johnson
OC -- John Sullivan

DE -- Brian Robison -- George Johnson -- William Gholston
DE -- Everson Griffen -- D'Aundre Reed -- Devin Taylor
DT -- Kevin Williams -- Letroy Guion -- Christian Ballard
DT -- Desmond Bryant -- Fred Evans -- Chase Baker -- Sheldon Richardson
LB -- Chad Greenway -- Audie Cole -- Alec Ogletree
LB -- Brad Jones -- Tyrone McKenzie -- Sio Moore
LB -- Philip Wheeler -- Larry Dean
FS -- Glover Quin -- Mistral Raymond
SS -- Harrison Smith -- Robert Blanton -- JJ Wilcox
CB -- Antoine Winfield -- Brandon Burton -- Greg McCoy
CB -- Chris Cook -- Josh Robinson -- Bobby Felder -- Tyrann Mathieu
CB -- Keenan Lewis -- AJ Jefferson -- Marcus Sherels

K -- Blair Walsh
P -- Joe Conley -- Ryan Allen
LS -- Cullen Loeffler

Obviously there will be some cuts. It is probable that the team will not select 13 players in the draft either. But I think that once you get into training camp some trade opportunities could come to fruition. For example, Joe Webb could be moved if a team suffers an injury. I would like to trade Letroy Guion too. Otherwise he could be a cap casualty considering he has a 3 mil cap hit and is owed 2.45 mil. I also do not think a lot of guys will make it like Banyard, Ford, Summers, Brown, Murphy, Holmes, Johnson, Baker, McKenzie, Conley, McCoy, & Felder. Others like S. Burton, Reed, McKenzie, Dean, B. Burton, and Sherels could be cut.

It is ambitious and most likely not going to happen if you believe Spielman. I also think the money I listed for the free agents may be too steep for the Vikings tastes. However maybe they can structure the contracts so that they can get rid of a guy after a couple of years. I think the NFL may be changing in the future in regards to free agent contracts. Teams need to be at 89% of the cap going forward in cash spent. But they really need to be closer to 95%. It could be that teams do not have the players that they want to pay a large amount of money to for a number of years. I think we could see more two and three year contracts going forward allowing the teams the flexibility to let a guy go if the fit is not right.

Well there you have it. Blast away.

Another option would be to resign Allen to that extension and not trade him. Also, keep Robison and Griffen too. In this scenario it is likely Robison just walks after next year unless they pull off a trade. I will do another mock without trading Allen later.

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