Of the free agents I would only resign Loadholt before free agency begins. After I do some shopping (window?), then, and only then, would I consider bringing back any of the rest of the free agents.
The contracts I would restructure/extend are Jared Allen, Percy Harvin, Kevin Williams, and possibly Charlie Johnson.
I would offer Allen a 5 year 50 mil deal with 22.4 mil guaranteed with a 9 mil signing (or roster) bonus. The expected franchise tag number for defensive ends is going to be 10.984 mil this year. I think 10 mil a year for Allen is pretty fair. He may still be a top DE worthy of the top DE money but who knows what it will be a couple of years from now. Obviously there are plenty of examples of top DEs playing good well into their 30s. So that is why paying him almost as much as the franchise tag number seems very fair. I would structure it so the cap hit each year would be 6, 11, 9.8, 10.8, & 12.4 mil. This would reduce his cap charge by 11 mil this year.
I would offer KWill a 3 year 14 mil deal with 8.5 mil guaranteed with a 3.6 mil signing (or roster) bonus. I would structure it so the cap hit each year would be 4, 4.5, & 5.5 mil. This would reduce his cap charge by 4 mil this year.
I would offer Loadholt a 4 year 22 mil deal with 11 mil guaranteed and a 8.2 mil signing bonus.
Here are some current deals signed by right tackles ...
Eric Winston signed a 4 yr 22 mil deal with 8.4 mil signing bonus and 11.5 mil guaranteed at age 28.
Jammal Brown signed a 5 yr 27.5 mil deal with 5.5 mil signing bonus and 8.25 mil guaranteed at age 30.
Todd Herremans signed a 5 yr 27.1 mil deal with 6 mil signing bonus and 11 mil guaranteed at age 29.
Tyson Clabo signed a 5 yr 25 mil deal with 11.5 mil signing bonus and 11.5 mil guaranteed at age 29.
David Stewart signed a 7 yr 38.9 mil deal with 6 mil signing bonus and 10 mil guaranteed at age 25.
I think a deal like the one Eric Winston signed is very fair and about right.
I would offer Percy a 5 year 52 mil deal with 23 mil guaranteed and a 12 mil signing bonus.
I would target these free agents.
I would offer Desmond Bryant DT 6'6" 311 (27 years old - 12/15/1985) a 4 year 24 mil deal.
Desmond Bryant, DT, Harvard
Height 6 ' 5.6 "
Weight 288 lbs.
Speed 4.92 ( Pro Day )
Graduation Year 2009
Birth Date 12/15/1985
Jersey # 90
Current Position DT
Projected Position DE
CDS Projected 2009 NFL Draft Round 6
Bryant appeared to be on the threshold of a breakout season in 2007 after a fantastic spring, but he took a leave of absence from the school and missed the entire 2007 season. His absence has been clouded in mystery and I haven't gotten anyone close to the situation to spill any beans. Let's hope it wasn't anything serious and that he's back to wreak havoc on the Ivy QBs in 2008.
Desmond also performed well at the Harvard Pro Day flashing 11.5" hands and 35.5" arms. He also posted 4.92 and 4.93 heats in the 40-yard dash with a 31" vertical, a 9'10" broad jump, a 4.45 short shuttle, and 7.44 three-cone drill. He repped 225 pounds 35 times on the bench.
Physical freak, especially for the Ivy League. Massive, and can be looked at as a coveted 3-4 DE. Very long arms with good ups. Wreaks havoc by batting the ball down at the line of scrimmage. Very strong, and can really bull rush anybody at this level. Also has some moves. Obviously very intelligent. May not need football.
Has never been tested against elite competition despite the undeniable physical gifts. Should have had better production that he did against such a low level of competition. Does he have motivational issues?
5-6th round project with immense upside.
I would offer Louis Vasquez OG 6'5" 335 (25 years old -4/11/1987) a 5 year 27.5 mil deal. He repped 225 pounds 39 times on the bench. If I did this then I would cut Charlie Johnson.
I would offer Brad Jones LB 6'3" 232 (26 years old -4/1/1986) a 5 year 22 mil deal.
I know the team needs to bring in a wide receiver. I think they can fit in a Bowe or Jennings under the cap but it would be very tight in a couple of years. The only way it makes sense is if they were able to trade Allen. But that is not in this plan. I just think it is tough to pay two WRs big time money.
Thus, I think the team should look for WRs who obviously are less accomplished and will take a lot less money and that may have something to prove. I originally had Domenik Hixon in my version 1.0 plan but I was unawares that he had TWO ACL surgeries. That is two much for me and makes him a long shot/risky free agent acquisition.
There are some other young free agents that may make sense. Jerome Simpson could be brought back on another prove it deal. I like Louis Murphy, Kevin Ogletree, and Mohamed Massaquoi (a little). I saw Brandon Gibson listed in another off season plan but I think he may be a little expensive for the production thus far. He is intriguing because he works the shorter routes very well and fits the profile of what Spielman ideally wants to do in free agency. He will be 26 in August and coming off his first deal. He was a 6th round pick who signed a 4 year 1.85 mil deal. I think he could want the same kind of deal that Steve Breaston signed with Kansas City last year which was a 5 year 22.5 mil deal with 9.5 guaranteed (basically he can be released after two years with a minimal cap hit).
Right now I am not sure who they pick up but I like any of these players better than Jenkins. I just think the reward could be greater. Jenkins is not going to get better and will decline. The question is how fast? I want to go with some youts.
One player that I would be interested in is Darrius Heyward-Bey. He is due 7.781 mil this year and has a cap hit of 10.6 mil. I think that if he does not restructure then he will get released which will cost the Raiders a 2.88 cap hit. If he gets released then I would try for him as he definitely brings some speed and could be ready to break out (finally). Or not?
The pickings are slim but I think they should be looking for depth type WRs who are young, have had some production, and could be on the rise.
I am going to leave out WR right now.
Now I have two trades of current players.
I would trade Toby Gerhart to Cincinnati for a 5th round pick which is #147.
Marvin Lewis has come out and said they have to do a better job running the ball. http://rosterwatch.com/?p=2177
He also went to to say he was not only looking for a 3rd down type back but someone who could carry the load if BJE went down. I think this is a match made in heaven. I wish it could be a 3rd or 4th round pick but I have to be realistic. Yeah we will miss Toby's 50 carries for 169 yards and 1 TD plus his 20 receptions for 155 yards and zero TDs. But I think that he will be gone after next season and there is no guarantee on a compensatory pick since that requires the Vikings to be inactive (or less actve) in free agency. This just makes too much sense provided that Cincy is interested. They are in this mock. :)
I would trade Brian Robison to Seattle for #120.
I think Seattle could be interested. Pete Carroll has come out and said they are looking for two DEs, so getting one proven guy and drafting another may be something he would consider. If they did trade for Robison they could extend his deal and lower the cap hit if they wanted. I think they probably will do the same for Chris Clemons.
One note on this trade is that it will cost the Vikings 2.167 mil against the cap (dead money for his prorated signing bonus).
I think at this point I would hold tight. I may consider some other free agents when the prices come down but then they would have to be short prove it deals.
This means I only resigned one of our free agents and I kept Winfield as is.
The Vikings started with 116.268 mil in salaries for 2013.
1. Restructure Allen saving 11.064 mil
2. Restructure KWill saving 3.5 mil
3. Trade Robison saving 4.5 mil
4. Trade Gerhart saving 371k
5. Release Jenkins saving 3.25 mil
6. Release Charlie Johnson saving 3.35 mil
7. Extend Percy costing 4.521 mil
This takes the cap number down to 94.754 mil.
I then want to sign these players ..
8. Sign Desmond Bryant
9. Sign Louis Vasquez
10. Sign Brad Jones
Depending on how they structure the contracts or if they have to pay a little more, there should still be plenty of cap space. They could decide they want to sign Bowe and pay him all of a signing bonus in the first year. Then after two years they may be in position to let him go if he is not performing. I think I would rather extend Griffen. Also, they could decide to keep Johnson for one more year and pay him 3.5 mil for this year and then decide what to do after the season. But since I want to sign Vasquez here, then I would save that money and probably bring back Schwartz if he would accept.
I think there is a lot of room left here to bring in another LB, S, RB, or to resign Felton. Basically, any player that may get released or is a little cheaper.
Onto the draft. The Vikings now have picks -> 23,52,83,99,118,120,147,149,197,211
Here is the draft plan.
The Minnesota Vikings trade pick #23 to the San Francisco 49ers for pick #32, 94, & 150. I think the 49ers could be looking for a player like Ezekiel Ansah, Jesse Williams, Johntahn Banks, Xavier Rhodes, or maybe even Tavon Austin. They also have 11 picks and it is highly unlikely that many players will make their roster. I look for them to maybe move up again or trade some picks for future picks like they did last year.
After this trade the Vikings have these picks -> 32,52,83,94,99,118,120,147,149,150,197,211.
So now the Vikings are ready to make the last pick of the first round and the fans are likely pissed at the trade down. Well, guess what? The Vikings are going to trade down again and not make a pick on the first night of the draft which is sure to really make everyone's night. But it is not out of the ordinary and something that Spielman is willing to do as evidenced in the 2010 draft.
The Minnesota Vikings trade pick #32 to the Kansas City Chiefs for pick #34 & 127. I think the Chiefs will want to jump up and get a QB. I do not think they will take a Barkley or Smith with the top pick. I think they can go with Woerner, Lotulelei, or Joeckel. Considering Brandon Albert is a free agent they may let him hit the open market and save that money. Selecting Joeckel can give them a left tackle that is cheaper and may be better in the long run. Think Matt Kalil. Yeah, I can see teams passing on the QB early in the first round only to try and jump up into the bottom part of the first round to get their guy. I think these QBs this year are likely to be second round picks like Dalton & Kaepernick.
After this trade the Vikings have these picks -> 34,52,83,94,99,118,120,127,147,149,150,197,211.
Now the Vikings can finally make their long awaited first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.
34. *Robert Woods WR Southern California Jr 6-1 190 4.47
This is the best wide receiver in the draft IMO. The dude was not 100% last year and still did pretty good. His 2011 season was outstanding. He can run all the routes, has great hands, is faster than what people think, and very tough.
52. *David Amerson CB North Carolina State Jr 6-2 194 4.49
Now this is kind of crazy right. Amerson is thought of as a possible safety. But I am taking a page from Josh D and thinking outside the box here. I want to stock up on the bigger safeties that can cover TEs ("Jokers") and play close to the box. I am thinking of carrying only 5 LBs and 11 DBs. But the team needs another corner for sure. Cook is good when he is out there but unfortunately it has not even been for one season yet. hard to count on a guy with that track record. Furthermore, who knows what he may want in a new deal. Then you have Winfield who is likely leaving and I think that adding to the secondary is very important indeed.
83. T.J. McDonald FS Southern California Sr 6-2 211 4.52
I think he is pretty good and obviously I am a homer. But the Vikings need another safety to put next to Smith and I think this sets them up very nicely for years to come. This may be too low for McDonald.
The Minnesota Vikings trade pick #94 & 211 to the Cleveland Browns for pick #101, 196, and a 2014 5th.
After this trade the Vikings have these picks ->99,101,118,120,127,147,149,150,196,197.
99. *Bennie Logan DT LSU rJr 6-3 295 4.89
I have warmed up to Logan and I really am now of the belief that Spielman is NOT looking for the next Pat Williams. I know many fans want a big run stuffer but I think the team is looking for quicker tackles. Logan is good against the run too.
101. Zaviar Gooden OLB Missouri rSr 6-2 233 4.49
I wanted to add a speed demon type LB. Gooden is suppose to be good in coverage and with his speed you would think he can stick with backs and TEs. I think it is time to get even faster on defense.
118. Devin Taylor DE South Carolina rSr 6-7 275 4.79
Taylor blew up the East West Shrine game and while cbssports has him as a 6th rounder still, I think teams took notice of his play and with his size, he is just too enticing to pass especially in the 4th round. I think he is going to continue to get bigger. In four or five year he could be pushing 300 lbs. Then I think he could be similar to Chris Canty or Calais Campbell.
The Minnesota Vikings trade pick #120 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for pick #140 and a 2014 4th.
After this trade the Vikings have these picks ->127,140,147,149,150,196,197.
127. Sio Moore OLB Connecticut rSr 6-1 240 4.64
Another LB to add to the mix. Moore is also good in coverage and has nice speed for a LB.
140. Chris Harper WR Kansas State rSr 6-1 228 4.46
I like the way Harper plays and I think he can be similar to Anquan Boldin although Harper is about 10 pounds heavier and faster coming out of college.
The Minnesota Vikings trade pick #147 to the New Orleans Saints for a 2014 4th.
After this trade the Vikings have these picks ->149,150,196,197.
149. Kenjon Barner RB Oregon rSr 5-09 188 4.39
This is the kind of change of pace back I like to see on the team. I know many will say year but he is not a 3rd down back. I cannot argue either. But we already have a 3rd down back. His name is AP. He is the one I want on the field on 3rd freaking down! It is way past time for AP to be on the field the majority of the time on 3rd downs. He had better learn how to block better considering how much money he is getting paid.
Barner is super fast and a threat every time he touches the ball.
150. Reid Fragel OT Ohio State Sr 6-7 298 4.92
He is a converted TE and is very athletic. Even though I am extending Loadholt, you need some depth. Demarcus Love is far from dependable. Heck, he is basically an unknown at this point. I would love for him to be able to be one of the linemen that suits up for every game.
196. Corey Fuller WR Virginia Tech rSr 6-2 197 4.43
I think Fuller has a lot of potential and this is what the team needs to do when trying to build up some depth at the WR position. This kid is fast and just needs more time to learn the position.
197. Manase Foketi OT West Texas A&M rSr 6-5 333
Foketi is massive but athletic. He transferred from Kansas State and went to West Texas A&M because K-State would not let him transfer to another DI school. I do not know why nore really care. Foketi went on and made All American and was a Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award finalist. That is what you expect a guy to do when he goes down a division.
*Marquess Wilson WR Washington State Jr 6-3 188
Wes Horton DE Southern California rSr 6-5 261
*Joe Kruger DE Utah Jr 6-6 280
Ryan Allen P Louisiana Tech rSr 6-1 231
*Levine Toilolo TE Stanford rJr 6-7 265
Braden Wilson FB Kansas State rSr 6-3 254
Dan Molls ILB Toledo Sr 6-1 230
Sean Renfree QB Duke rSr 6-4 225
Chris Jones DT Bowling Green Sr 6-2 302
Melvin White CB La.-Lafayette rSr 6-1 208
*Stefphon Jefferson RB Nevada Jr 5-11 210
*Duron Carter WR Florida Atlantic rJr 6-3 212
MarQueis Gray WR Minnesota Sr 6-4 250
Greg Reid CB Valdosta State Sr 5-07 186
Luke Ingram LS Hawaii Sr 6-5 251
In summary, here are the results of the draft ...
34. *Robert Woods WR Southern California Jr 6-1 190 4.47 (cbssports #41)
52. *David Amerson CB North Carolina State Jr 6-2 194 4.49 (cbssports #68)
83. T.J. McDonald FS Southern California Sr 6-2 211 4.52 (cbssports #106)
99. *Bennie Logan DT LSU rJr 6-3 295 4.89 (cbssports #131)
101. Zaviar Gooden OLB Missouri rSr 6-2 233 4.49 (cbssports #117)
118. Devin Taylor DE South Carolina rSr 6-7 275 4.79 (cbssports #202)
127. Sio Moore OLB Connecticut rSr 6-1 240 4.64 (cbssports #133)
140. Chris Harper WR Kansas State rSr 6-1 228 4.46 (cbssports #144)
149. Kenjon Barner RB Oregon rSr 5-09 188 4.39 (cbssports #150)
150. Reid Fragel OT Ohio State Sr 6-7 298 4.92 (cbssports #167)
196. Corey Fuller WR Virginia Tech rSr 6-2 197 4.43 (cbssports #195)
197. Manase Foketi OT West Texas A&M rSr 6-5 333 (cbssports #201)
plus an 2 extra 4th round picks and 1 fifth round pick in 2014.
And there is plenty of cap room left over to do other things too. Now before you start to say how can they add 12 draft picks and 3 free agents let me explain. In Tom Peliserro's list of the players under contract for next year that I linked above it shows 53 . If this plan was executed then 4 players would leave the team and 3 new players would be added as free agents bringing the number to 52. Included in that 52 are 10 practice squad types who signed a futures contract. Then you have players who could be let go because they lose out via competition like McKenzie, Dean, Burton (both), Evans, and George Johnson. I could see all 12 picks making the team or at least the practice squad.
I could have traded up and I expect I will have to in this scenario because I think a lot of the players I picked could go earlier when it is all said and done.
Feel free to take this scenario and play with the picks by moving up or down and provide a mock of your own.