With one game left in the season, and the Vikings having yet another turd of a game today, I wanted to throw out a possible offseason plan. I'm not a capologist and don't know college players enough to provide a meaningful mock draft, so this largely focuses on what to do with current players as well as a BPA/positional view of the draft. Would appreciate any additional thoughts/discussion.
*First and foremost, Frazier, Musgrave, and Williams HAVE to go. If they don't, we'll simply see more of the same next year and for the first time in 35 years, I'll likely find other games to watch on Sundays. I simply can't stomach watching another season of such a poorly-coached team. As to who replaces them -- I don't know, just someone remotely competent, that's all I ask.
*Bye-bye on defense: This defense is beyond abysmal and needs to start over. I see no way the team brings back the following FAs: Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Fred Evans, Chris Cook, Marvin Mitchell, Desmond Bishop. Further, Greenway and Guion need to go. Greenway eats up way too much cap space for being an over-30 and subpar linebacker (he seems to constantly miss angles and tackles), and Guion doesn't deserve to play out the rest of his contract.
*Re-sign on defense: As for Everson Griffen, I'm not sure that I care if he's re-signed. I imagine he's looking for a big deal, and I just don't see that he's shown enough to deserve big money. The guy is in his fourth year and manages only to be a backup on one of the worst, if not the worst, defenses in the league? I just can't get excited about re-signing him for big bucks. And for some reason I think his ego has been built up enough that he'll expect to be overpaid. But if he's reasonable -- then okay, bring him back.
*FAs and Draft - Defense: Considering all the holes that exist as this defensive overhaul begins, the Vikings should pursue the following strategy: (1) be aggressive in signing a top FA cornerback. Alteraun Verner comes to mind if he hits the market, but in any event this defense needs an experienced and reliable corner to start opposite the promising Xavier Rhodes. I think this has to be the biggest FA focus, and considering Spielman's focus on building through the draft, perhaps it's the only big signing. (2) considering the Vikings' draft position and the possibility that any QB they pick in the first round could be a reach, I'm hopeful they have an opportunity to trade back once or twice and pick up an extra couple of draft picks in the first two rounds. With those picks they should focus on BPA for the defense. There's no position there where they don't need help. Their existing core is promising but minimal -- Robison and Floyd on the DL, Harrison Smith at S, and Rhodes at CB. Beyond that, I see no surefire starters coming back on defense. They need help, and lots of it, so extra draft picks would help. Finally, I hope for Michael Mauti to really step up and prove to be the man at ILB. Cole has shown some ability, but I just don't see him as the stud in the middle that this team craves.
*At QB, we'll just have to see where the chips fall in the draft. Certainly we'll take a quarterback early, but as noted above I don't think it wise to reach. We did that with Ponder and we've seen how that worked out. If the best move is to wait until second or even third round and get good value, then I'm all for that. Even with Cassel's horrible game today, I'm fine with him as a backup and potentially even a starter at the beginning of the season. If they can trade Ponder for a 7th rounder, they should take it. Unfortunately, I don't think he'll bring even that, so he'll likely be released. He wouldn't be a bad backup, but I just think the well is poisoned and he needs a new start somewhere.
*Bye-bye on offense: Charlie Johnson, Jerome Simpson (he's had a decent season but he's just too much of a risk to end up in jail at any moment), John Carlson (glad to see he had some good outings this season, but even if he comes back his concussions make him to iffy to rely upon).
*Re-sign on offense: I'd like to see Joe Berger resigned, and I'd be okay with Joe Webb being re-signed to a minimum deal now that he's had a season to adjust to the WR position. J'Marcus Webb seemed to do fine when called upon and re-signing him to a lower end deal would be fine. I also think that if the price is right, Gerhart should be re-signed. I'm puzzled that Gerhart has been exactly what he was expected to be when the Vikes moved up in the second round to nab him, but now it seems the consensus is that he won't/shouldn't be resigned. I really question how much any other team will be willing to pay him in FA, considering the general short shelf life for RBs and the fact that they seem to be a dime a dozen in the draft. So perhaps Gerhart won't get a big pay day on the open market and the Vikes can bring him back. Considering Peterson is getting closer to 30, I wouldn't mind seeing more of a balanced rushing attack using more of Gerhart.
*Offseason plan of offense: Aside from drafting a QB sometime early in the draft and finding a replacement for Johnson in the draft or via FA (or through Jeff Baca, perhaps?), I don't see the need for drafting anyone on offense. Receivers -- Jennings, Patterson, Wright, and possibly Childs -- are ready to shine if someone can get them the ball consistently. At the TE position I'd be okay with Rudolph, Ford, and Ellison. RB is set if Gerhart is resigned. OL except for left guard should be set -- though certainly the OL needs to play better next year.
*Mock starting lineup: The following mock starting lineup assumes the Vikes trade back a few times in draft and somehow manage to end up with 3 second round picks and 3 third round picks. I'm not sure this is likely but I don't think it's crazy either. With that in mind: OFFENSE: QB: 2d rd pick/Cassell; RB: Peterson; FB: Felton; TE: Rudolph; OL: Kalil, 3d rd. pick, Sullivan, Fusco, Loadholt; WR: Patterson & Jennings. DEFENSE: DL: Robison, Floyd, 2d rd. pick, Griffen/3d rd. pick; LB: 2d rd. pick, Mauti, Henderson/Cole; S: Smith & 3d rd. pick; CB: FA & Rhodes.
*STs and Depth: Special teamers stay the same -- Walsh, Locke, Loeffler. Depth at WR is Wright, Childs, Webb, and/or Rodney Smith. Depth at TE is Ford, Ellison, and perhaps a late-round draft pick. Depth on OL is Baca, Berger, and Webb. Depth at RB is Gerhart and perhaps a late-round pick with some speed. Depth on DL -- a mid-level FA or two and some later draft picks. Depth at LB -- Hodges and some later rd. picks. Depth at S: Sendejo and Blanton. Depth at CB: Robinson (needs to improve), Sherels, Prater, hopefully a diamond in the rough 4th round draft pick.
Those are my thoughts for today. Normally I don't start thinking of this stuff until free agency is approaching, but with not much to enjoy with the team's current play, I needed something hopeful to think/write about.