Friday, February 27, 2015

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He's loose

Adrian Peterson carries the ball against the Carolina Panthers.
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FURTHER UPDATE: The NFL has released a statement, the most important tidbit of which is that Adrian Peterson has been returned to the NFL Roster Exemption/Commissioner’s Permission List.

Judge Doty’s order did not contain any determinations concerning the fairness of the appeals process under the CBA, including the commissioner’s longstanding authority to appoint a designee to act as a hearing officer. Even so, we believe strongly that Judge Doty’s order is incorrect and fundamentally at odds with well-established legal precedent governing the district court’s role in reviewing arbitration decisions. As a result, we have filed a notice of appeal to have the ruling reviewed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the interim, Adrian Peterson will be returned to the Commissioner Exempt List pending further proceedings by appeals officer Harold Henderson or a determination by the Eighth Circuit Court.

It has been the NFL’s contention that the courts had no authority to review arbitration decisions and it sounds like they will use this argument once more in appeal. As far as I know, and this is an educated guess, the Vikings and Peterson cannot have contact with each other while he is on the Exempt List until the new league year, and he cannot be traded (until the new league year, I believe—the exempt list does not prevent a trade by itself).

Wrong again! According to Ben Goessling at ESPN, the Exempt List DOES allow a player and a team to communicate. This means all the analysis for why that matters (below) is applicable.

The Eighth Circuit Court holds court one week a year in mid-April, and rulings come out in late May and early June. No word yet on what it means for the NFL April 15 hearing on Adrian Peterson’s suspension, because… well, he’s not suspended anymore.

UPDATE: Per Ian Rapaport of the NFL Network, the NFL will appeal Judge Doty’s decision, presumably seeking an injunction while the case is settling in a District Court.

In important news, the @NFL is expected to appeal the Adrian Peterson ruling handed down by Judge Doty. Explanation coming online.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 26, 2015

This does not preclude a second arbitration hearing “under the old policy,” though I suspect if it happened, the NFL would find a way to uphold their own ruling again. No word yet on whether or not the NFL will challenge both rulings (the retroactivity one and the one arguing Henderson had the authority to rule on the old policy as well) or just one.

As Andrew Brandt notes, courts are increasingly hesitant to overrule the rulings of an arbitrator, and that may include the ruling over what an arbitrator can rule over, as it were—meaning courts can defer to an arbitrator’s interpretation of their own scope of power, and increasingly do (as friends in the legal community have confirmed to me).

The Eighth District Court may rule that Judge Doty was correct in ruling against the NFL for punishing Peterson according to the old conduct policy but incorrect with regards to the arbitrator’s scope—that is, the District Court may argue Henderson’s ruling that Peterson’s suspension is upheld under the old policy still applies.

According to former Minnesota Viking Robert Smith of ESPN, Judge David Doty has ruled in favor of Adrian Peterson and the NFLPA in their court case contesting Harold Henderson’s ruling to suspend Adrian Peterson. That does not precisely reinstate Peterson, but it does overturn Henderson’s ruling. Text as follows: 


1. The petition to vacate arbitration award [ECF No. 2] is granted; and

2. The case is remanded for such further proceedings consistent with this order as the CBA may permit.

The Court found that the NFL violated the “essence of the CBA” by violating industrial common law and argued that the Ray Rice precedent was proof; the NFL’s attempt to distinguish the cases didn’t pass muster.

According to Doty, “Although Henderson purported to rely on factual differences between Rice and this case, he did not explain how those differences would justify a different result.” The arbitration is therefore vacated, although I’m not sure if this means Adrian Peterson is reinstated or whether or not this forces the NFL to reconsider the NFLPA’s appeal against his suspension (functionally retrying the case under the old policy). Regardless, this should mean that Peterson will be reinstated soon because his punishment exceeded the bounds of the old policy.

The NFLPA has said that Adrian Peterson’s suspension has been overturned, while the text of the ruling doesn’t seem as obvious to me.

EDIT: My intuition was correct—he has not been reinstated, the arbitration has been rebuked. Peterson’s and the NFLPA’s appeal of suspension with the NFL is active once more and it will be decided upon by the old policy.

The NFL released the following, five-word statement: “We are reviewing the decision.”

The NFLPA released the following statement:

“This is a victory for the rule of law, due process and fairness. Our collective bargaining agreement has rules for implementation of the personal conduct policy and when those rules are violated, our union always stands up to protect our players’ rights. This is yet another example why neutral arbitration is good for our players, good for the owners and good for our game.”

The NFL has legal recourse in this case and can file an appeal and can potentially seek an injunction on the stay of suspension granted by the court, functionally re-suspending him. That would take it up to the circuit court.

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Mock Draft season, a three-month frenzy of “what-ifs”, gives us the chance to step into Rick Spielman’s shoes from February to April. We can speculate free agency moves, predict possible roster cuts, and determine who the Vikings will take with the 11th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. You’ve read the first edition of our mock drafts, and now, it’s your turn to don “Slick Rick’s” thinking cap.

On Wednesday, I took to Twitter, where I asked Vikings followers who they’d like to see the team draft in April. Some envisioned a DeVante Parker-Teddy Bridgewater reunion, while others imagined a safety tandem of Harrison Smith and Landon Collins. Here are a few of the final results:

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NFC North by Matt Engstrom
Image created by Matt Engstrom

The Vikings aren’t the only team making big decisions this offseason.

While our favorite team might be the most dramatic when it comes to their offseason circumstances, our enemies are busy making moves of their own. Here is a look at what they are up to this week:


Our biggest foe of all is looking to overhaul their linebacker group in 2015 and that process begins by cutting loose some veteran players. The Packers first cut Brad Jones and then came Wednesday’s announcement that they were parting ways with A.J. Hawk, as well.

Jones and Hawk opened 2014 as Green Bay’s starting inside linebackers and now it appears they will both be elsewhere this coming season. Hawk has been with the Packers for all nine years on his NFL career, but at age 31 he has no intentions of retiring.

“I’m ready for some new opportunities,” he said, according to ESPN. “I feel good. Hopefully I get a chance somewhere else.”

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Most of the contributors at Vikings Territory have published their first-round mock drafts, and the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine is officially over. Some players boosted their stock with impressive 40-yard dash times, while others hurt their value with poor showings in on-field drills. How did our mock first-round picks do in Indianapolis?

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2014 NFL Draft Vikings Table
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The NFL Combine is officially over and we are just a couple weeks away from the official start of the 2015 Season. Mock Drafts from most of the VT Team have been published and post-Combine updates are likely around the corner. Followed by pre-free agency mock drafts which will then be succeeded by post-free agency mock drafts that are then… Well, you get the picture.

But first, over the next couple of days, we are going to feature the mock drafts of a couple of individuals we really appreciate around these parts. The first is from Luke Inman of who you may have heard a couple times on the Purple FTW! podcast. I had the pleasure of meeting Luke last year at Vikings Training camp. The only thing more impressive than the depth of Luke’s football knowledge is his up-beat personality and character. Seriously, the guy is a treat to be around.

Luke’s first round mock draft below features a ton of in-depth analysis and provides a very detailed breakdown of the Vikings selection at 11. Check out the first five picks below and then continue reading for the entire first round.

 Tampa Bay Logo
1. Tampa Bay (2-14) // Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

He’s been my number one player here since this process started and now at the combine we’re starting to see what makes him so good. Winston is a pocket passer who will beat you from the neck up and has a live arm to go with the mental intangibles. Truly one of the better diagnosers of the game that we’ve seen at the position in some time, its just a shame people are only finding out about it now, mainly because of his off the field issues that overshadowed his game. Winston isn’t just a piece to an offense, he is the offense. As long as the maturity issues have been put to bed, Winston is a guy you can build your franchise around. He gets to stay home in the state of Florida where he lands in a cush spot with young emerging talent all around him (Mike Evans, Austin Jenkins, Charles Sims) on top of a proven veteran coach in Lovie Smith, something that’s foreign for most number one picks that are typically that building block to start scratch from.

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 2. Tennessee (2-14) // Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Zach Mettenberger? This guy ain’t buying it. The Heisman trophy winner Mariota is the more ultra-athletic of the two which will add an exciting extra wrinkle into whatever offense he plays for. The former Oregon Duck will translate that elite athleticism into a smooth dropback passer under center, however I still worry about his pocket presence and how he will adjust to the speed in the NFL. Still, the upside of having a potential franchise quarterback is worth the risk for this franchise in the long run, over a blue-chip defensive player who isn’t guaranteed to help this team get over the hump. A trade down would be the best solution if they truly are comfortable with Mettenberger, meaning either way I think Mariota is the second player off the board on Draft Day because of the position he plays. In this league the first rule of Fight Club is you can’t win without a quarterback.

 Jacksonville Jaguars Logo
3.  Jacksonville (3-13) // Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Randy Gregory was my pick here a week ago and I loved it, but now along with many other people I’m overly concerned with the weight Gregory showed up to the Combine at and where he fits in the NFL. Williams might be the better pick from the get-go anyways with his ability to line up up-and-down the defensive line. Williams carries the massive size to hold linemen up at the point of attack, as well as the athleticism to penetrate into the backfield. At the end of the day it’s Williams’ versatility to line up in multiple fronts that will allow Gus Bradley to finally open up his exotic defensive playbook and maximize his front-seven’s potential.

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 4. Oakland (3-13) // Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

The hottest thing since the internet, Kevin White hushed any critics he had left after he proved that he has the deep speed with a ridiculous 4.35 40-time to go with his 6’3” 215 pound frame. A tough matchup doesn’t come close to describing White one-on-one with his defender as he has the strong body control and hands to pluck the ball out of the air in even the most difficult contested balls. Hope Derek Carr wasn’t listening because we want him to be surprised when he sees his new shiny toy under the Christmas tree.

 Washington Redskins Logo
 5. Washington (4-12) // Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska

After becoming one of the most dominating pass rushers in college football last season, Gregory has me worried after showing up to the Combine a putrid 218 pounds. This raises serious questions about how he will transition into the NFL and just where exactly he will be forced to play. While I’ve had him as a traditional 4-3 defensive end for the majority of my scouting, now Gregory has forced people to view him as a edge rushing linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and nothing more. Of course there is still plenty of time for him to get back into the 235-245 range where he will have to play in order to achieve the things that will be asked of him by his team. Even with the sudden red flags Gregory still has one of the best pass rushing tapes of the 2014 season with a remarkable “get off” off the snap making it tough to pass on him, especially with the expected loss of linebacker Brian Orakpo to free agency. Gregory adds a big piece into making this defensive unit a legitimate threat that’s going to start commanding some serious respect soon.

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