While the hot button issue with the Vikings these past couple of weeks has been the stadium issue--and rightly so--I can only take so much politics mixed in with my football. So for just a while, let's quit gnashing our teeth at incompetent "leaders" and focus on why we really follow the Vikings--the players on the field.
And just like the stadium, the future for many Vikings players remains cloudy. One such player is the next subject of our Project 2012 series: safety Husain Abdullah. When he was on the field in 2011, his fourth season in the NFL, Abdullah was a very serviceable member of an otherwise atrocious Minnesota secondary. He started nine games, recording 49 tackles, an interception, and a sack. Abdullah didn't have a Pro Bowl season by any means, but he been one of the most reliable players in the Vikings' defensive backfield for the past couple of years.
But the concern with Abdullah "Oblongata" (sorry, I had to throw in one of my favorite nicknames at least once) hasn't been his time on the field--it's why he's spent so much time off of it.
He has suffered four documented concussions within the past year and a half, which is equal parts frustrating and frightening. Abdullah missed nearly half of the past season due to concussion-related symptoms, leaving many to wonder if his career would be cut short. Thankfully, doctors recently cleared him to keep playing football. But since he's a free agent this offseason, should he keep playing football for the Vikings?
I think he should. Abdullah has shown that he's an effective NFL safety the past couple of seasons. He seems to be around the ball at every opportunity. There's no doubt he's dedicated--the guy has endured fasting for Ramadan during training camp in the past. By all accounts he's a great person--not just anybody gets invited to the White House by the President himself.
I realize that being a hard worker and a good person doesn't get you very far if you're not producing on the field. The concussion situation is incredibly harrowing. But with the rest of the secondary outside of Antoine Winfield in need of a major overhaul, I think the stability that Abdullah can provide would be important. I doubt he'll demand a king's ransom in free agency, so I think it would be wise for the Vikings to bring him back.
But that's just what I think. Here's what the rest of the DN writers had to say about Abdullah's future:
Chris: Potentially bringing back Husain Abdullah is a delicate subject. On one hand, he has shown some promise and potential and has been one of the few members of the Vikings' secondary over the past couple of seasons that has proven himself to be a solid player amidst all of the players that have seen time in Minnesota's defensive backfield.
On the other hand, four concussions in 16 months is nothing to sneeze at, particularly when one considers that once you've suffered one concussion, you're more prone to suffering them than someone that hasn't. The severity of the concussions doesn't even matter, quite frankly. . .anybody that thinks a mild concussion is actually "mild" has obviously never had a concussion before.
The doctors have cleared Abdullah to play, that much we already know. Abdullah seems to be a pretty smart guy, and has weighed the risks of coming back versus walking away from the game at the age of 26. After doing so, he has come to the conclusion that he wants to be back on the field. If he knows and understands the risks, and the Vikings are willing to have him back, I think the Vikings should welcome him back. Again, he's been a solid safety for the Vikings when he's been healthy, and if he thinks he can come back and play at a high level, the Vikings should give him a shot.
Ted: When you get to guys in the secondary, besides Antoine Winfield, I can't get excited about keeping any of them. If we're looking at keeping a guy for no other reason than "he sucks the least", well, maybe it's time to pull out the firehose and the scrub brush. Abdullah isn't terrible, but he's not great either. There are probably better options out there in the draft and in free agency.
But then you look at who the Vikings have acquired via free agency in the secondary in recent years--Madieu Williams--and you think maybe the Vikings shouldn't go down that route either. And when you look at the draft, anyone the Vikes have drafted after the first round has been really hit or miss, so it's not like I'm filled with a 55 gallon drum full of love if they follow that yellow brick road.
So at least as far as the secondary goes, the Vikings are in the Wasswa Serwanga-type Bermuda Triangle--Abdullah isn't good enough to convince me he's a long term answer, especially when you take into consideration his recent concussion, their track record at signing defensive backs in free agency has been spottier than a menopausal tampon, and although they need some draft help in the secondary, if they grab a safety in the first or second round I think they'd be making a huge mistake.
So, let me do this, I'm going to spin a wheel
Screw it. Keep him.
Skol Girl: The Vikings seem to really like Abdullah and, when he was healthy, Abdullah was one of the brighter spots in the Vikings' secondary. Abdullah said the Vikings wanted to resign him last season, but he wanted to postpone talking about contract stuff so he could focus on playing. Since Joe Woods is still the defensive backs coach, it seems likely that the Vikings still want Abdullah. So, I think he'll be back next season.
Kyle: My thoughts are who cares, the Vikings aren't going to be in Minnesota anymore so who gives a sh*t.
OK, OK, I needed to get that out of my system. I'm going to bite down hard and cling to whatever shred of optimism I have left here and pray that everyone--save the Wilfs, who have done everything that's been asked of them and more--pull their heads out of their asses. I'm don't even LIVE IN Minnesota and I don't know what I would do if the Vikings left.
In regards to Abdullah--I hear everyone when they say that "he sucked the least and that shouldn't be enough", and "those concussions are starting to really rack up". I like that Abdullah seems intent on changing some of his playing style so as to lessen the chances of a concussion; however, I like it simply because that might mean he won't be drooling at 35. But what will that do to his game? Will trying to change his tackling form make him worse at it? Will he become gunshy to make a hard hit? (I wouldn't blame him one iota for it, either.) That's a big question mark IMO.
On the flip side, our secondary needs a major overhaul. Even Winfield may not be reliable anymore, and he sure isn't a long-term answer at anything at this point regardless. So you could take "major" and change it to "complete" if Chris Cook doesn't return. The thing is, with this in mind, suddenly "sucking the least" actually carries some weight--tragically. Even with an amazing draft and FA raid, it's less than likely that we can completely change over the secondary in a single offseason, especially if we intend to look at any of the other major holes on this team (like the glaring ones in the O-line, which, IMO, are bigger than the secondary concerns at this point in time--a bad secondary will lose us games, but a bad O-line will lose us games too and destroy our QBOTF). Since we pretty much won't be able to pick up two or three solid cornerbacks and two solid safeties in a single offseason, I think we give Abdullah another chance. I wouldn't sign him longer than a 2 year contract, though, with the concussion concerns, as well as the possibility that his playing style may drastically chance--either for the better, or for the worse.
Mark: I think they should offer him a deal once they have explored other avenues in free agency. He had OK numbers in 2010. Nothing earth-shattering though.
It will be his 5th season next year. Considering he has had these concussions that have scared him (and rightfully so) and caused him to get checked out, I would hesitate to sign him again. Who knows if he is going to get another one?
So that being the case, how much would you offer him? Is he going to get better? Significantly better? Maybe.
I would wait and see what I could do in free agency before I approached him again about a new deal.
I am more inclined to sign a free agent (Tyvon Branch) and select a draftee to fill out the safety position.
And I would not resign Eric Frampton either. He cannot play in the base defense and is only a special teams player. The Vikings are not very good on special teams and he is no Steve Tasker.