With free agency underway, I better get this latest version up and running before, I don't know, the Vikings actually sign someone. End sarcasm.
Positions of need:
LB—Erin Henderson was resigned, but Mike backer currently sits vacant. The depth at linebacker also does not inspire much confidence. This is a unit that has been ignored for far too long. It must be addressed this off season.
DT—Kevin Williams is aging. He also is carrying a big price tag. Guion showed that he’s a rotational player. Evans played much better than I ever imagined, but he is still a rotational player. Top backup at 3 tech is Christian Ballard who is also a rotational player.
WR—This unit has been much maligned throughout the season. Percy Harvin has been traded and Michael Jenkins has been released. Stephen Burton is still a project. Wright has shown potential. I would look to free agency and the draft to upgrade this unit. Jerome Simpson has been re-signed.
CB—Winfield has been released. Cook is oft-injured. Robinson and Jefferson showed promise. Burton has been a disappointment, and Sherels is a solid returner yet awful at cornerback. You can never have enough pass defenders.
OL—The first 5 played well this season. But we can still upgrade the guard positions. It might be a good idea to add a guard this offseason. Phil Loadholt and Joe Berger have been resigned. Schwartz has been allowed to test the market.
DE—Robison and Allen are solid starters, but they are getting up in age and contracts will need to be addressed soon. Griffen showed that he is a very valuable rotational player at both end and tackle. But you can never have enough pass rushers.
QB—Webb is not a viable option at QB in this offense. MBT is a developmental prospect. Ponder has been up and down and missed games in both seasons as a pro (he also missed significant playing time at FSU).
RB—We don’t have a true 3rd down, change-of-pace type back on the roster. That should change. Fullback Jerome Felton has been resigned.
- Jared Allen is carrying a huge cap number this year (over $17 million). But he is also playing at a high level. Rumors have swirled around Denver that they might cut Elvis Dummerville (who is also carrying a huge price tag in the excess of $13 mil this year). I would like to get JA at or below Dummerville’s cap number. Restructuring his contract to $12 million this year would free up 2.3 million (there’s another 2.5 million in dead money structured in his contract) and allow us to pursue a viable replacement for Winfield.
- Kevin Williams is set to earn 7.5 million this year, which makes him one of the highest paid DT in the league. Henry Melton was franchised at the tune of 8.4 million. I would restructure KWill’s contract in the range of Brandon Mebane’s $5 million dollar earnings for 2013, which gives us another 2 million to use to find a replacement for Percy Harvin.
- Letroy Guion has a cap number of $3 million! With 1 million being dead money, cutting Guion will save another 2 million in cap space.
- MBT. Nuff said.
- I also really wanted to release Charlie Johnson (4.3 million owed in 2013), but after not offering Schwartz, and the top 2 guards in FA already signed elsewhere, I have to eat Johnson’s salary for another year (or do I? Stay tuned…)
Free Agents to acquire:
Let me preface this by saying I think it is going to be difficult attracting players to Minnesota. The team will be playing in a college stadium for 2 years, which means outdoors in Nov-Jan, in Minnesota. Offensively, this team runs through AP so attracting WR’s will be a tough sell, not to mention Ponder’s inconsistency. Also the stories surrounding Winfield’s release aren’t helping, especially for attracting established veterans. So with all that in mind, beggars can’t be choosers.
WR Greg Jennings, Them. This is not necessarily a move I would have made last week. But with Harvin gone, and Welker/Amendola/Avery signed elsewhere, I think we have to make this move now. I would offer Jennings a similar deal to what Welker received (2 year/$12 mil), maybe push it to 3 years/$15 million.
QB Brain Hoyer—Arizona Cardinals. It looks like the Vikings are in the market for a backup QB. Rumors have connected the Vikings to Matt Cassel who does have plenty of starting experience; which is exactly why I don’t know how interested he is in coming to Minnesota to be Ponder’s backup. Maybe he knows what MarkSP18 and myself have said all along, and will just bide his time until when/if Ponder goes down?
DT Alan Branch—Seattle Seahawks. Branch is a versatile player who has experience playing DT, NT and DE. He’s quite similar in stature to our own KWill. I don’t know that he can be the run plugger that we all have become nostalgic about when we think about the Williams’ Wall. But Branch would definitely be an upgrade over Letroy Guion. I’d also be willing to kick the tires on Tampa Bay NT Roy Miller.
CB Sean Smith, Miami Dolphins. With all the money that went to Wallace and Ellerby, it appears that Miami is willing to part ways with budding cornerback Sean Smith. This is the long-term investment that I am willing to make. Smith is a tall corner, who, paired with Chris Cook could give the Vikings 2 legit outside cover corners. This allows Josh Robinson to slide over to the nickel spot full time, which I think is what he is best suited for. DRC signed in Denver for 1 year/$5 million and Derek Cox signed with SD for 4 years /$20 million, so I’m thinking of a 5 year, $26 million dollar deal for Smith. If I knew that Xavier Rhodes would fall to us in the draft, then I probably wouldn’t give Smith this kind of money. But since there are no guarantees, I feel this move is necessary.
Reserve/Futures contracts already signed:
Joe Baynard, RB
LaMark Brown, TE
Chase Ford, TE
Chris Summers, WR
Chase Baker, DT
Bobby Felder, CB
Greg McCoy, CB
Nick Taylor, CB
TJ Conley, Punter
Tyler Holmes, OL
Kevin Murphy, OL
I will be using the following website from Pro Sports Transactions to determine draft order:
#23 DJ Fluker, OL Alabama
#25 (from Seattle) Jesse Williams, NT Alabama
Trade: Vikings send #52 overall and their 5th round pick (#147 overall ) to Tennessee for #40 overall
#40 (from Tenn) Quinton Patton, WR Louisiana Tech
#83 DJ Swearinger, S South Carolina
#99 (from Detroit) Jon Bostic, ILB Florida
#117 Zaviar Gooden, OLB Missouri
#179 Matt Scott, QB Arizona
#197 (from Arizona) Lucas Reed, TE New Mexico
#213 Micah Hyde, DB Iowa
#217 (from Seattle) Jasper Collins, WR Mount Union
Stephon Jefferson, RB Nevada
Dan Buckner, WR Arizona
Rashard Hall, S Clemson
Oscar Johnson, OT Louisiana Tech
TJ Johnson, C South Carolina
Richard Samuel, FB Georgia
Jordan Campbell, LB New Mexico Highlands
2013 Training Camp Roster:
QB—Ponder, Hoyer, Scott, Webb
RB—Peterson,Gerhart, Jefferson, Asiata, Baynard
TE—Rudolph, Carlson, Reed, Brown, Ford
WR—Jennings, Wright, Simpson, Patton, Collins, Summers, Buckner, Childs
OL—Kalil, Fluker, Sullivan, Fusco, Loadholt, Berger, Love, Kropog, Holmes, Murphy, O. Johnson, T. Johnson
DL—Allen, J. Williams, K. Williams, Branch, Robison, Griffen, Evans, Ballard, D. Reed, Baker, Johnson
LB—Greenway, Bostic, Henderson, Gooden, Dean, McKenzie, Mitchell, Cole, Campbell
CB—Cook, S. Smith, Robinson, Jefferson, Hyde, Sherels, Burton, White, Felder, McCoy, Taylor
S—H.Smith, Swearinger, Sanford ,Raymond, Blanton, Sendejo, Davis, Hall
I'm looking forward to see what you guys would do differently.
Update: Sean Smith signs with KC. Vikings sign Matt Cassel.
Corner is still a need. Time to call up the agents for Aqib Talib and Keenan Lewis. Maybe even Brent Grimes.