Justin K. Aller
Time for another off season plan. The Vikings are gearing up for the NFL Combine and probably going over the roster and salary structure in detail right now. I think some major decisions are going to be made about the future direction of this team. I am most curious to see the moves that they are sure to undertake. They are not easy decisions for the front office. But they are easy for me. So let us proceed without further ado.
I have come across an interesting article and am providing the link to those interested ...
... I think this is very interesting indeed. If you look at the past Super Bowl teams they are quite similar in having a top heavy payroll. But they do not have it at 60 mil. They are all about 10 mil per less in their top 6 players as compared to the Vikings.
The Vikings have two players counting for over 13.9 mil each against the cap next year. They have 6 players who will cost 61 mil of the cap space next year which is will count for 50.3% of the cap next year (Allen, AP, Greenway, Winfield, KWill, & Robison). They still need to add some players so that number will come down slightly but it is still a lot.
It is a hard thing to do but I think the team needs to have more players making 1 mil to 2 mil, 2 mil to 3 mil, 3 mil to 4 mil, and 4 mil to 5 mil ranges.
In my Off Season Plan v2.0 I had the Vikings restructuring Allen and KWill, extending Loadholt and Harvin, and signing Desmond Howard DT, Louis Vasquez OG, and Brad Jones LB as free agents. Looking at those moves and how I thought they could structure the first year of the deals would have 11 players making almost 67 mil which would be 55% of the cap. They would end up with 35 players making less than 1 mil.
I am not sure how they can get to a more balanced roster though. There are just some positions that require a high payment if you want an All Pro level player.
I just am throwing it out there for people to check it out.
In this plan I still am not sure what to do about the defensive end situation. But after checking out the story above I really believe it is time to let Allen go to another team who is willing to pay him close to 10 mil per year for the next 4 years. I think even if he would agree to restructure it is going to cost too much in the long run and may limit the Vikings flexibility going forward. Thus I feel that the most prudent thing to do is to trade him now while he still has good to decent value and to free up a ton of cap space.
The Vikings currently have 9.6 mil to carry over from last year according to this article ...
For reference, the previous number of 12.3 mil that the Vikings had under the cap was adjusted to about 9.6 mil due to bonuses earned by Percy Harvin and Chris Cook ...
So the Vikings could be 19.2 mil under the cap without making any moves at all. Of course they need to resign some of their own free agents and maybe a couple of outsiders.
Onto the plan.
1. Trade Jared Allen to the Seattle Seahawks for their 2nd round pick (#58) and a conditional 4th round pick in 2014. I think that is the best we can do to be honest. I also think he maybe willing to sign an extension there since they are a team that looks like it will compete for championships in th enext couple of years.
2. I would release Kevin Williams. He is set to count 8 mil towards the cap and I do not even want to bother insulting him with a 4 mil or less offer. I could see keeping Williams if he agrees to a deal for about 4 mil per year. But then I would release Guion.
3. I would release Michael Jenkins. He is set to receive a 2.4 mil bonus in early March and has a cap hit of 3.9 mil. No chance of that happening.
4. I would trade Percy Harvin to the Miami Dolphins for their first 2nd round pick (#42) this year and their second 3rd round pick (#82) this year. I think that the team is going to go in a different direction and do not want to deal with him any longer. I think there will be a bidding war for him too. No question. Do not believe the stuff that people post about his "injuries", "attitude", etc. His production has been pretty dang good when you consider who is throwing thim the ball. Miami makes a lot of sense. Davone Bess will be entering the last year of his contract next year and they could decide to move him if they get Percy.
5. I would trade Toby Gerhart to the Cincinnati Bengals for their fifth round pick (#147) this year. I can only hope the Bengals bite on this otherwise the Vikings will keep him and watch him leave next year.
These moves would give the Vikings an additional 32 to 33 mil to use in free agency.
6. I would sign Phil Loadholt OT 6'8" 343 (26 years old - 1/21/1986) to a 5 year 40 mil deal.
7. I would sign Louis Vasquez OG 6'5" 335 (25 years old - 4/11/1987) to a 5 year 35 mil deal.
8. I would sign Desmond Bryant DT 6'6" 311 (27 years old - 12/15/1985) to a 5 year 30 mil deal.
9. I would sign Brad Jones LB 6'3" 232 (26 years old - 4/1/1986) to a 5 year 22 mil deal.
10. I would sign Dwayne Bowe WR 6'2" 221 (28 years old - 9/21/1984) to a 5 year 57 mil deal.
11. I would sign Arthur Jones DT 6'3" 313 (26 years old - 6/3/1986) to a 4 year 14 mil deal.
Note: I would release Letroy Guion if I was able to sign Jones freeing up another 2 mil. Guion is going to make 3 mil next year and I think it is too much. In 2014-15 it goes up to 3.95 mil. The Vikings need more production for that kind of money. Also, If I signed Vasquez then I would let Charlie Johnson go too. That would free up about 3.5 mil as well.
So entering the draft the Vikings would now have picks
-> 23, 42, 52, 58, 82, 83, 99, 118, 147, 149, 180, 197, 211
In the draft I would do this ...
23. *D.J. Fluker OT/OG Alabama rJr 6-5 355
I think this pick is exactly what this team needs to get the line looking dominant. I see him starting at right guard on day one. Then you have Vasquez at left guard and you will not see too much pressure right up the middle any longer.
42. *Robert Woods WR Southern California Jr 6-1 190
Obviously the Vikings need more WR help after trading Harvin and signing Bowe. I think Woods fits good right here.
52. Margus Hunt DE/DT Southern Methodist rSr 6-8 277
I think that Hunt could drop down here because of his age (26 already) and inexperience. But he is a freak and with good coaching could become quite a player.
58. T.J. McDonald FS/SS Southern California Sr 6-2 211
Obviously I like McDonald and would love to see him next to Smith. I think that safety spot needs some a new player. I like Raymond and Blanton as backups.
Note: This could be considered early as the opinions on McDonald vary. But since I am a homer and I have watched him his entire career I am not too worried. He would be very good in the secondary with Smith. That would be an intimidating duo. Also, maybe I should switch this pick with the Jamar Taylor pick?
82. *Stedman Bailey WR West Virginia rJr 5-10 195
I think adding another WR is essential to the long term viability of the position group. Bailey was very productive at Wets Virginia which I like.
83. Jamar Taylor CB Boise State rSr 5-11 192
Never enough corners. I see Winfield being gone after this season and who knows with Cook? Cook needs to be available. This far he has not and that is why I signed DRC. Who knows what kind of money Cook is going to ask for at the end of next year or if the Vikings will even want to offer him a new deal? He has to play 16 games.
99. Zaviar Gooden OLB Missouri rSr 6-2 233
One of the fastest linebackers in the draft. I think he has potential to be a pretty good cover LB.
118. Keith Pough LB Howard rSr 6-2 241
Another intriguing small school linebacker who did very well at Howard.
2012 MEAC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: LB Keith Pough, Howard...Keith Pough recorded 72 total tackles, 44 solo, with 10.0 for a loss of 50 yards during the 2012 campaign. Pough became the FCS all-time record holder in tackles for a loss with 83 to cap his four-year collegiate career with the Bison. He ranks 13th in totl tackles as well as in tackles for a loss in the conference. He also recorded 3.5 sacks for a loss of 35 yards, two quarterback hurries, one block, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and earned his first-career touchdown in a come-from-behind victory over Delaware State. Pough has earned MEAC Defensive Player of the Week accolades twice this season. - Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football
147. Mike Gillislee RB Florida Sr 5-11 207
I think Gillislee could be a third down back that the Vikings could use since I traded Gerhart. I thought about Kenjon Barner because of his speed and ability to take it to the house. But Gillislee may offer a bit more all around production.
149. Montori Hughes DT Tennessee-Martin Sr 6-4 328
I former Tennessee Vol who was dismissed from the team. He did well at the Senior Bowl practices but had a foot injury and did not play in the game.
180. Reid Fragel OT Ohio State Sr 6-7 298
I like Fragel. I think he is just learning the position as a former tight end. He has fairly quick feet. I think he would be a nice swing backup for the first few years. Love is not getting it done because of his unavailability.
197. Rodney Smith WR Florida State Sr 6-5 219
At this point I am thinking why not take shot on a very tall WR who could be a red zone weapon in time.
211. *Joe Kruger DE Utah Jr 6-6 280
I like Kruger right here and I believe he will add some very good size to the defensive line. I think he can be a base DE in a 4-3 defense or a DE in a 3-4 defense. He has NFL blood lines that will help to prepare for training camp.
Cooper Taylor SS Richmond rSr 6-4 229
Ryan Allen P Louisiana Tech rSr 6-1 231
*Levine Toilolo TE Stanford rJr 6-7 265
Chris Jones DT Bowling Green Sr 6-2 302
Michael Mauti OLB Penn State rSr 6-2 235
Braden Wilson FB Kansas State rSr 6-3 254
Tourek Williams DE Florida International Sr 6-3 259
Greg Reid CB Valdosta State Sr 5-08 186
Luke Ingram LS Hawaii Sr 6-5 251
Sean Renfree QB Duke rSr 6-4 225
Taimi Tutogi FB Arizona Sr 6-1 269
The roster would be this ...
QB - Christian Ponder - Joe Webb - McLeod Bethel-Thompson
RB - Adrian Peterson - Matt Asiata - Mike Gillislee - Joe Banyard
FB - Rhett Ellison
TE - Kyle Rudolph - John Carlson - Chase Ford
WR - Robert Woods - Jarius Wright - Rodney Smith - Chris Summers - Lamark Brown
WR - Dwayne Bowe - Stedman Bailey - Stephen Burton - Greg Childs
OT - Matt Kalil - DeMarcus Love
OT - Phil Loadholt - Reid Fragel - Kevin Murphy
OG - D.J. Fluker - Troy Kropog - Tyler Holmes
OG - Louis Vasquez - Charlie Johnson
OC - John Sullivan - Brandon Fusco
DE - Brian Robison - Margus Hunt - George Johnson
DE - Everson Griffen - D'Aundre Reed - Joe Kruger
DT - Arthur Jones - Christian Ballard - Montori Hughes
DT - Desmond Bryant - Fred Evans - Chase Baker
LB - Chad Greenway - Audie Cole
LB - Brad Jones - Keith Pough - Tyrone McKenzie
LB - Zaviar Gooden - Larry Dean
FS - Mistral Raymond - T.J. McDonald
SS - Harrison Smith - Robert Blanton - Brandon Burton
CB - Antoine Winfield - Jamar Taylor - Nicholas Taylor
CB - Chris Cook - Marcus Sherels - Bobby Felder - Rod Williams
CB - Josh Robinson - AJ Jefferson - Greg McCoy
K - Blair Walsh
P - Chris Kluwe - T.J. Conley
LS - Cullen Loeffler
An alternate draft
23. *Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tennessee Jr 6-3 205
42. Kawann Short DT Purdue rSr 6-3 308
52. *Logan Ryan CB Rutgers rJr 6-0 190
58. Quinton Patton WR Louisiana Tech rSr 6-0 202
82. Bacarri Rambo FS Georgia rSr 6-1 215
83. Cornellius Carradine DE Florida State Sr 6-4 265
99. Brian Winters OG Kent State Sr 6-4 310
118 . Zaviar Gooden OLB Missouri rSr 6-2 233
147. Mike Gillislee RB Florida Sr 5-11 207
149. Chris Harper WR Kansas State rSr 6-1 228
180. Michael Williams TE Alabama rSr 6-6 269
197. Manase Foketi OT West Texas A&M rSr 6-5 333
211. Corey Fuller WR Virginia Tech rSr 6-2 197
I realize that this plan is ambitious and gets rid of some of the "beloved" veterans. I just think it is time to move on and really get a young squad that can possibly compete each and every year. I think the team did well this past year but I am not so sure they can duplicate that effort especially AP. 1600 yards would be good though. Very good. But I am greedy and would love for him reach his goal of 2500 yards.
That is why I would go after Vasquez right away in free agency with Bryant right behind him.
If you have an offensive line that looks like this ...
LT - Matt Kalil 6-7 306 (23 years old)
LG - Louis Vasquez 6-5 325 (25 years old)
C - John Sullivan 6-4 305 (27 years old)
RG - D.J. Fluker 6-6 335 ( 21 years old)
RT - Phil Loadholt 6-8 343 (27 years old)
OL - Brandon Fusco 6-4 306 (24 years old)
OL - Demarcus Love 6-4 316 (24 years old)
OL - Reid Fragel 6-7 298 (22? years old)
OL - Troy Kropog 6-6 308 (26 years old)
OL - Kevin Murphy 6-7 295 (22 years old)
OL - Tyler Holmes 6-4 301 (24 years old)
... then you should be able to move the ball on the ground.
I did not include resigning Felton, Brinkley, Henderson, or Simpson. But there is enough room under the cap to get it done plus sign all the rookie.
Yeah, I like this plan a lot. I have been warming up to Fluker coming in and lining up at guard next to Loadholt. I think that running to the right side would be pretty good in that case. All they would need is a good blocking TE. But since I picked up Fragel who use to play TE they can line him up at TE at times too.
I will say that if the Vikings keep the payroll as is and do not adjust anyone's salary, they willl have that 19.2 mil to spend if they want. That money will have to go towards extended Loadholt and Percy, giving some of the other free agents new deals, and signing the rookies. I think that there could be some cuts that are not in the top players (i.e., everyone's favorites) like Jenkins which would free up another 3 mil. Still, it would mean the team will stand pat for the most part besides some small signings. Then after next year they will have Allen, Winfield, Charlie Johnson, Robison, Kluwe, Gerhart, and Evans (among others) coming off the books. That would free up 36 mil right off the bat. They would then have to sign Cook & Griffen to new deals. I am not a fan of this approach but if I had to bet money I would guess they will stand pat for the most part and not do anything "radical" like I am suggesting.
Still, what I am I suggesting that is radical or even could be considered too much. I am trading two players, releasing 4 others, and signing 4 free agents plus Loadholt. Last year the team signed Felton, Schwartz, Simpson, Carlson, Mitchell, plus some others who did not make the team (Bowman, Carr, Hilliard). They let Hutchinson, Herrera, Cedric Griffen, Longwell, and Remi Ayodele go. I am not really making a lot of moves at all.
Here are some links to interesting stuff ...