there's enough of these going around, but i figure i'll throw mine in for good measure.
Vikes FA's to re-sign (only addressing the UFA's ... i think the RFA's and XRFA's will be back regardless):
OT Phil Loadholt: he has his faults and has likely reached his ceiling, but you know what you're gonna get and consistency across the line is valued with the team. if he can occasionally remove his head from his ass and stop the unnecessary penalties, he's probably one of the best RT's in the NFC.
FB Jerome Felton: for the 5% of fans who actually require an explanation here: Spielman went out of his way for MOAR FULLBACK for a reason -- to find one that works. this ain't broke, so he ain't fixin' it. next.
S Jamarca Sanford -- still leaves a little to be desired in coverage, but he really stepped up his game from 2011 in that aspect. still a monster on ST, 4 forced fumbles on the year, more than capable in run support. at this time last year, i was eyeing TJ McDonald for this draft -- not anymore. Smith/Sanford is a quality starting Safety duo.
LB Jasper Brinkley -- offer a patented Spielman one-yr 'prove it' deal. he'll get competition in TC, and will likely end up being a serviceable backup and ST'er in 2013.
LB Marvin Mitchell -- every few years we rotate ST studs. i think Mitchell is worth keeping around in that capacity; and until we shore up LB depth, it's a necessary move to make.
OL Geoff Schwartz -- special circumstance given he didn't really get the opportunity to compete. the coaching staff supposedly wants him to be more aggressive, but he's decent depth at either OG spot. i'd offer another 1-yr deal and see if he takes it. i don't see us addressing OG in the early rds of the draft.
Simpson played well down the stretch, but i don't think he'll be back unless his contract is heavily incentive-laden.
Henderson underperformed on his 'prove it' deal and i'd let him hit the FA market again.
Aroma and Berger are expendable.
obligatory contract notes:
JA's contract needs to be restructured or extended -- i would give it only two more seasons for reasons detailed in another thread.
i'd like to keep Jenkins around, but only if he takes a serious pay cut.
Carlson stays for one more season to redeem himself, as the cap hit we'd take by cutting him is equal to his 2013 guaranteed $$ and base salary -- might as well see if it pans out.
obligatory Percy Harvin note:
Percy is an interesting case... i think we should absolutely re-sign him unless it really is a worst-case scenario. if that's the case, rumor is Belichick loves him -- which you could see coming a mile away. i'd try to flip him for the Patriots 2014 1st rd pick -- sound crazy?? it might work -- word on the street is Percy's value is a 2nd rd pick, and future picks are bumped up a round. it would be sad to see him go, but i'd happily take that trade if there's no hope.
Free Agents to Target:
WR Greg Jennings, GB: we need a true #1 WR -- not a 'deep threat', not a 'red zone threat', but one who can draw double-coverage because he's just that good. Jennings is still capable of performing at a high level, age and recent injuries notwithstanding. his positive personality will fit well with this team's identity, and he'll be a leader and role model for our young (and getting younger) WR corps. this will be the only splashy FA signing, but well worth the $$.
(note: i don't like Mike Wallace because we don't need a deep threat with how well Jarius Wright was stretching the field for us late in the season -- and Wallace is a head case. Dwayne Bowe would be a nice consolation if we lose out on Jennings, but i'd rather go-for-broke on Jennings while other teams are courting Bowe -- his work ethic and attitude have also been brought into question.)
NT Terrance Knighton, JAX: everyone knows DT is a need, not only because Kevin Williams isn't getting any younger, but also because we want to get back to top-5-against-the-run numbers. Knighton is a plugger who has fallen out of favor in Jacksonville. some will point to the fact that the coaching staff demoted him mid-season... but that coaching staff was fired. reading comments from Jags fans throughout the season, many of them thought the defense played better when Knighton was rotated in after the demotion. i'd offer him a 1- or 2-yr deal to see if this big boy can get our DLine back to form against the run.
QB Tyler Thigpen, BUF:
the prodigal son this guy returns!! by now, most have come to the realization that Webb isn't going to work out as the backup QB (side note: i fully expect at least one Webb-head to challenge this statement -- over/under is set at 11 comments until they strike). like several fans, i also like Matt Moore as a name being thrown around -- but i also think Spielman liked Thigpen when he was here, and he'll go after him again. Thigpen will know his role behind Ponder, and his work ethic and experience should prove to be beneficial at a decent price.
LB Keith Rivers, NYG: he may not come as cheap as we'd like, but i'd rather roll the dice with Rivers than bring back Henderson. Rivers comes with an injury history, but there still might be some untapped potential we can get out of him. another Spielman 'prove-it' deal, here -- odds are he can win the starting WLB job out of the gate.
per Vikings.com, these are the picks we have. won't do any trading, but expect Spielman to wheel and deal as needed -- maybe not as much as last year, but i wouldn't be surprised to see something happen:
Rd 1 -- LB Kevin Minter, LSU: i already hear some of you shouting, "REACH!!" -- i believe it will come to pass that Minter will be a 1st rd lock. he's a downhill LB with 3-down ability who can drop back in coverage effectively (wouldn't that be nice to see in our Mike...??). voted MVP by his teammates this season -- that's an honor amongst so much talent.
now, i know we can't depend on anticipating what other teams are going to do, but the crop of ILB's is thin and we need an elite MLB out of this draft. the Bears will be looking for an heir apparent to Urlacher, maybe in the 2nd rd (i'm sure they'll be going OLine in the 1st); the Ravens will be looking for the same to replace Ray Lewis immediately; the Steelers also have LB holes to fill. we could try to trade back from #23 and still get Minter, but i wouldn't run the risk. get while the gettin's good and secure the pivotal piece we need for this defense to take the next step.
(note: i also like Arthur Brown, but i'm leaning toward Minter being a more solid prospect in the middle. Te'o would still be nice, but given the recent happenings i'd rather avoid distraction. i'm not as high on Ogletree as many are.)
Rd 2 -- WR Quinton Patton, LA Tech: i've stated in a few threads how we need a solid route-runner out of this draft. he doesn't need elite speed, he needs reliability. someone who can catch the ball consistently, high point it when necessary, and get open when a play unravels. Patton is that guy. he also does the small things that often get overlooked in these mocks, like being effective in run support. i think there is great value in Rd 2 for WR, as there isn't a big drop from one player to another in the top 10 at the position.
Rd 3 -- CB Leon McFadden, San Diego State: tenacious zone corner, lots of experience under his belt. with Winfield (unfortunately) nearing the end, Cook entering a contract year, and Jefferson looking like nothing more than a Dime back, i feel it would be wise for us to groom another young prospect along with Josh Robinson. McFadden has all the tools we look for in our CBs -- i'm just hoping he flies under the radar enough to make it to us in the 3rd.
Rd 4 (from DET) -- DT Everett Dawkins, Florida State: the FA signing of Knighton was to be the plugger; we still need an effective DT prospect to groom behind KWill, who i think will be back for another season or two. Ballard has shown promise, but it's still too early to say one way or the other if he's the answer.
Rd 4 -- LB Jake Knott, Iowa State: Knott will be a guy to watch during the Combine. he's a solid, versatile player with good fundamentals, but a shoulder injury ended his senior season. needs a little bit of time to develop, i'm sure, but could have a future at the weakside for us. he could go anywhere in the mid-to-late rounds, though i think he'll be a solid choice in the late 4th, if maybe a little bit of a reach.
Rd 5 -- WR Alec Lemon, Syracuse: does a little bit of everything. probably won't be anything more than a depth guy, but again, i'm looking at solid route-runners with reliable hands -- we need as many of those as we can get.
Rd 7 (from ARIZ) -- CB Michael Carter, Minnesota: i'm high on Carter. watched him closely all season, as he finally got his act together after a roller coaster of a college career. solid in coverage, could contribute on ST and develop into a Nickel or, at worst, a Dime back down the road. stock is looking good after 2 INTs in the Meineke Bowl.
Rd 7 -- OG Matt Summers-Gavin, Cal -- i usually go BPA with the last pick in my mocks, but what the hell... get a developmental guy for the OLine and maybe we'll end up with a surprise.
welp, that does it -- feel free to grade and/or comment with your thoughts.