Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Monthly Archives: February 2012

Wednesday was a sllllow news day.

Thursday might be the opposite.

Reports emerged via KFAN that the Vikings, the City of Minneapolis, and the State of Minnesota are close to reaching an agreement which would formulate a bill to be presented to legislature.  It is expected that the various parties involved are working late into Wednesday night and an announcement will be made on Thursday.

In fact, a press conference has already been scheduled at the Capitol at 9:00 a.m. Central Lutefisk Time.

According to KFAN’s report, the bill proposes a stadium built adjacent to the existing Metrodome and lays out a three to four year construction timeline.  The Vikings would have to play on season at TCF Bank Stadium under this plan.

The total cost of the project is expected to be about $975 million with the Vikings organization taking on half of those costs and half of the operating costs.  At this point, no details are known about how the public funds portion of this bill is set up.

Don’t get too excited, as the legislature still has to, you know, vote and stuff.

This still has a ways to go.

It seems to be all but a done deal that the two Draft selections in front of the Vikings will be used on quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, in that order.  That essentially leaves the Vikings with the options of selecting left tackle Matt Kalil, selecting cornerback Morris Claiborne, selecting wide receiver Justin Blackmon, or trading down for a healthy ransom.

Rumors are flying around right now that the Rams could trade that number two pick well before April’s Draft, however, which could put the Vikings next in line to entertain substantial offers for the third overall selection.

And those rumors of an early trade might just have some weight behind them.

Think about it.  The value of the number two overall selection, which gives a team the right to presumably draft Griffin, may never be higher than it is right now and the Rams reportedly have a large number of suitors.

If they wait, however, then some of those suitors will likely drop out of the running as they fill their quarterback needs elsewhere.  Fewer suitors means a smaller audience for the auction, which could mean a lesser deal.

Let’s say, for example, that Miami signs Peyton Manning.  They are now out of the auction.  What if the Browns or Redskins sign Matt Flynn?  The Niners could re-commit to Alex Smith.  What if the Seahawks decided they wanted to roll with Jason Campbell?  What if one or more of those teams decide they like Ryan Tannehill and choose to wait it out for Draft Day and see how things unfold?

The Rams may never again have as many bidders as they do right now, following an amusement park ride of hype at the NFL Combine, and they may opt to strike a deal while the iron is hot. 

I would… if I were them.

If, and it is admittedly a big if, things unfold early with the Rams trade options, it could put the Vikings in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the Draft.  In fact, they may be able to hold an auction of their own for Tannehill if enough teams feel like he can be a franchise quarterback (we’ve seen lesser quarterbacks rise faster than that).

Or it could simply be a matter of testing the waters and seeing what price team’s might be willing to pay for a chance to snag Kalil, Blackmon, or Claiborne.

Being in the driver’s seat is exactly where the Vikings would ideally be sitting, so pay close attention to the drama surrounding the number two pick, as it might just define this Vikings Draft.

Gregg Rosenthal of Pro Football Talk managed to create a minor stir amongst Vikings fans on Monday when he tweeted a rumor he had heard at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

“Heard at Combine the Vikings are in mix for a few of biggest FA names,” read Rosenthal’s tweet.  “Ready to spend. Bucs as well.”

Fans should probably reign in their expectations a little as the Vikings don’t have a ton of spending power, especially when being compared to Tampa Bay, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see quite a bit of action on March 13th.

So, I decided to dust off my old free agency rankings and make another list of who I think should be the Vikings top targets.  The list takes everything into consideration including salary range, age, talent level, scheme, likelihood of actually hitting the open market, and so on.

Read more after the jump.

[NOTE FROM ADAM:  This is the final installation of my position-by-position breakdown of the Vikings offseason.  You can click the links to view previous installments:  The Passers, The Runners, The Wide Outs, The Tight Ends, The Offensive Line, The Defensive Tackles, The Defensive Ends, The Linebackers, The Cornerbacks, and The Safeties.]

This is the shortest and quickest of my Offseason Preview because I really only focus on three roster spots.  That isn’t to say that long snapper, kicker, and punter aren’t important positions… there just isn’t a whole lot to talk about here.

In fact, I will keep this really short.  So short, I won’t even add the little “read more” tab that takes you to a new page.

Long snapper Cullen Loeffler signed a four year extension on October 7th and then a crack back block cracked his back in November and he landed on injured reserve.  Matt Katula was signed to replace him on special teams but was awful.  Loeffler’s surgery on his back is said to have gone well, and he will be back in plenty of time for the regular season.  Katula is set to become an unrestricted free agent and is highly unlikely to get a job in Minnesota again.  The Vikings may, however, decide to sign a long snapper to join them in Mankato after evaluating Loeffler’s health in August and to make sure he stays rested.

Punter Chris Kluwe had an average length per punt of 45.7 yards which was 19th in the NFL.  His net average on those punts (i.e. where the ball was downed) was only 38 yards per attempt which dropped him down to 26th in the NFL, but blown assignments on the coverage team accounts for plenty of that yardage.  He placed 22 punts inside the 20 yard line, which ranks 19th in the NFL, and 19 of his punts were fair caught which is good for a ranking of 12th.  Despite ineptitude on offense, Kluwe only punted 77 times in 2011 which was 16th among all NFL punters.

Overall, Kluwe was getting decent hang time and distance on his punts for another season, and will almost certainly be back for 2012.  He is entering the sixth year of his seven year contract and will earn $1.3 million.  The team has way too many pressing needs to mess around with the punter position, so the social media tycoon will be back at it.  He is also a pretty decent holder on place kicks.

Rick Spielman has not made it any secret that he wants this roster to get younger.  Those looking at the roster with a reasonable amount of logic expect them to trim some fat by cutting or restructuring expensive veterans.  Ryan Longwell’s production at kicker dropped way off in 2011.  So why isn’t his name being thrown around as somebody who might be on the chopping block?

Last offseason the Vikings inexplicably committed (this didn’t come out until later in the season) $12 million over four years to a 37 year old kicker that was clearly losing leg strength.  $3.5 million of that contract is guaranteed.

Longwell had a kickoff average of 64.8 yards (21st in the NFL), managed a career high 19 touchbacks (23rd) thanks to the NFL rule change on kickoff position, and attempted only one onside kick which failed.

Longwell was given the contract extension mainly because he was the league’s most accurate field goal kicker over the previous two years, but that was not the case in 2011.  He made only 79% of his field goals (26th in the NFL), was two for three from beyond 50 yards, and even missed on an extra point.

Partly due to reputation and partly due to his contract, I do think Longwell will be back, but the Vikings shouldn’t keep themselves closed off from other options.  Connor Barth (age 26), Matt Prater (28), and Josh Scobee (30) would all represent younger options with stronger legs should they become unrestricted free agents.  Also, with the Vikings expecting to have a bunch of late round picks, a guy like Blair Walsh of Georgia or Randy Bullock of Texas A&M might fit right in with the Vikings long term rebuilding plans.

In the end, however, I suspect we will see zero turnover in these three positions.  Expect Cullen Loeffler, Chris Kluwe, and Ryan Longwell to be your specialists once again in 2012.

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Well, the NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone already and, with February dragging on one day longer than normal, we are almost into the month of free agency.

While the Combine seldom produces huge impacts on the draft stocks of individual players, it does play a part in confirming certain skills or attributes of a prospect.  So, naturally, it is time to dust off my nearly month-old mock draft and give it a new coat of paint.

You can view the latest version of my 2012 mock draft by clicking here.

I have yet to venture into the second round.  However, the Vikings are scheduled to make a selection three picks after the first round ends.  So, if the Draft plays out like my mock predicts, which prospect do you think the Vikings are most likely to target in the second round?  Let me know in the comments section.

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