I usually am an optimistic Minnesota Vikings fan most of the time; with the history the Vikings have, a lot of Vikings fans or just football fans in general don't share the same optimism. I understand this and study the game a little more than the average Joe, but I think it's important to stay positive no matter what the odds.
As they say, "Hope for the best and prepare for the worst," but what if a lot of the worst did come to be; how would the 2013 Minnesota Vikings fair? There are several important decisions to be made, many player's contracts are up and questions about the coaching staff to be addressed. So, what's next in Minnesota?
With as fortunate as Minnesota has been in rebuilding the roster over the past few years; can this trend continue?The rebuilding process didn't take as long as most thought because most thought it just started a year ago,but really some of the most vital and some of the subtle changes have been going on since 2009; that's why, in my humble opinion, the turnaround seemed so quick, because Minnesota has actually been rebuilding since the '09 season.
There are aging veterans that are a very important part of the team now and moving forward. Antoine Winfield is expected to return, but he could retire. If he, an I do think that he will, does return; there is a strong possibility he could go down with an injury and who knows when that could be. There needs to be players in place for if Winfield misses games, God forbid he goes down early in the season. As well as he played last year, history says he will likely take a step back anyway. I'm looking for him to defy the odds though, as I said; I am optimistic. You also have Kevin Williams, who is owed a nice chunk of money. The Vikings will not pay him what he is owed, and they will not pay Jared Allen what he is due either. Now, people will say trade them, but is there a team that is going to work something out with either of these players with the amount of money that is in involved?
On the other side of the ball is Phil Loadholt, whom the Vikings tried to work out a deal while the season was going on, but had no success. Adrian Peterson is lobbying hard for the sides to work out deal so that he remains a Viking, but if another team offers him more money than Minnesota is willing to, he is likely going to keep his best financial interests in mind and sign elsewhere. Staying on that side of the ball, it is realistic that Jerome Felton will be signed again, but what about Jerome Simpson; if he is resigned, will he play with all that potential he has or will we just end up signing another underachieving wide receiver all together, or both? Micheal Jenkins and Charlie Johnson both fit that mold of underachieving, but are owed a nice chunk of change. As much as there is a need to upgrade the play of both of their positions; will it be done, and who will do it?
It looks as if Jamarca Sanford has come into his own, but he is at the end of his contract as well, and there are several teams out there that have more inferior play from their safeties than Minnesota. You throw in his great special teams play, and I would be shocked if a couple teams didn't try to lure Sanford away. Brinkley is another guy that is solid and he could be gone as well. He doesn't have the most fans out there, but can start and would be one of the best back ups in the league. Toby Gerhart is guy who may be traded, but will there be enough in return to make a deal worth it? Minnesota would would do themselves a favor to find a change of pace back, whether it is Asiata or Gerhart that is replaced; it looks to be Asiata as the odd man out.
Percy Harvin is a superstar hands down. If you want to know who the best player that is not a quarter back in the NFL is; it comes down to Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, and some would say; they are the two best; period. He is still under contract for another year, but he will need to paid be right now if we want to see Harvin in Minnesota for the long term. Critics say a lot of negative things about Harvin and go on to talk his trade value. I, for one do not care if you get two first round picks for him; I would be willing to bet anyone, that both of the players that would be acquired with those picks would never amount to half of what Harvin is on a bad day. People talk about his durability; he missed three games his first three years and did go down this past year, but he was virtually the entire Minnesota Vikings' offense.(Goes to show how impressive Peterson's season was considering he didn't start carrying the bulk of the team until the Seattle game; maybe 2,500 yards next year). Critics will be critics though, bottom line is he went out this past year and when he was playing,he was the best player by far and was being talked about as the possible MVP. He did this knowing what John Carlson was being paid, which was considerably more, to do virtually nothing; Harvin still did his best. I don't know of many players with that kind of talent that would have played like that for that little of money, hell Micheal Jenkins and Charlie Johnson make more than he does. This will be the most important off season move to be made. I truly hope Harvin remains in Minnesota, but we all need to understand there is big possibility he will not.
The coaching staff is another area with big question marks. Who will go, who will stay? Will the staff remaining in place continue to get better or if someone is brought in, what is going to be the effect? Can this team continue to move forward, or will adjustments to the coaching staff actually set the team back?
Spielman knocked it out of the park last draft, but the likelihood of that happening again is not good. I do have faith in Spielman though and look for him to defy the odds; there is a noticeably pattern since first joined the Vikings' staff and now he is an actual general manager. Minnesota has had some good and bad drafts in the past. if you look at 2001 and 2002, out of 17 picks the Vikings only got two players worth mentioning; Michael Bennett and Bryant McKinney, the other 15 were washes. And nothing panned out in '04 and '05, in fact it wasn't until 2007 when Adrian Peterson was drafted that players started to work out and stick around. So, there is no guarantee even though since 2007 Minnesota's drafting ability has been trending upward, how it will work out? Many are of the opinion that this draft is not as strong and Spielman will have to find some gems to keep Minnesota competitive, but again the odds are against Vikings' fans. One thing that I am happy to say though is that a lot of the time when things are not looking good for Minnesota they manage to pull something out; let's hope it can be done this off season.
It is a fine line between the good and the bad in the NFL. The decisions to be made over the coming months will determine just how competitive the Vikings can really be. If the ball bounces the right way, Minnesota can be in a situation to be contenders, but if the ball bounces the other way...