While a lot of the focus on the Minnesota Vikings’ this past week has been on the field, and with good reason, the man that perhaps played the biggest role in putting it all together has finally gotten a little recognition of his own.
Rick Spielman, the Vikings’ General Manager, has been named the 2017 NFL Executive of the Year by the folks from Pro Football Weekly.
As the article from Eric Edholm points out, there are only nine GMs in the NFL that have been in their jobs longer than Spielman, who was named the team’s primary General Manager in 2012 (after the “Triangle of Authority” or the “Rhombus of Reason” or whatever other configurations the Vikings tried). Spielman made a lot of decisions this year, and turned a team that collapsed to an 8-8 record after a 5-0 start in 2016 into one of the NFL’s best and deepest teams.
The Vikings needed to fix their offensive line this offseason, and Spielman and company did that. They signed bookend tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, and though the moves weren’t all that highly heralded at the time, they’ve turned out to be pretty good ones. He also made the move up in the draft to grab rookie center Pat Elflein, and he’s been a stabilizing force on this offensive line as well. Add in the depth guys like Danny Isidora and Rashod Hill (who Spielman poached from Jacksonville’s practice squad late in 2016), and we can pretty easily say that the offensive line rebuild has been a success.
Of course, that’s not all he did. He snagged Dalvin Cook in the draft, and though he’s missed most of this season, he looks to be an important piece in the Vikings’ future plans. And, of course, there was the most under-the-radar signing of the offseason, when the Vikings decided to toss about $2 million at quarterback Case Keenum for him to come in and serve as Sam Bradford’s backup and/or keep the seat warm for Teddy Bridgewater if anything happened to Bradford. That seems to have gone pretty well. (SPOILER: Neither Spielman, nor anyone else, is getting Keenum for $2 million next season.)
There was plenty of Monday Morning Quarterbacking directed at Spielman when the Bradford trade allegedly “blew up” in 2016. But, as we’ve gone over in this space plenty of times, after the Bridgewater injury, Spielman made a move that he felt he had to make for a team that he felt was a contender. . .without the benefit of hindsight. We don’t need to re-hash everything that happened, but it’s still pretty safe, in my opinion, to say that he made the right move there. With Shaun Hill in 2016, the Vikings probably would have been lucky to win four games, and who knows where this team would be now if that had happened?
It’s nice to see Rick Spielman getting recognized in a manner like this. I don’t believe this is an “official” award, but perhaps it’s a precursor to a bigger one to come later on this month.
So, congratulations to Rick Spielman on being named Pro Football Weekly’s 2017 NFL Executive of the Year!