Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monthly Archives: December 2012

Back in April The Sporting News decided to dig into the past and expose some not-so-flattering stories about Percy Harvin, Urban Meyer, and the Florida program in general.  Their findings illuminated Harvin as an entitled young man with a short temper.

At the time, the piece had the feel of a hit job of sorts, and many questioned the odd timing of this information coming out.

With a recent report from 1500 ESPN describing yet another confrontation between the uber-talented receiver and his current coach, Harvin’s status as a Viking is yet again being called into question.

Reports of the past have included throwing a college coach on the ground and putting hands around his neck, testing positive for marijuana prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, throwing a weight at former head coach Brad Childress, and requesting a trade prior to this season before performing a sudden about-face.  That list would be enough to call any player unreliable, and we haven’t even started talking about his long list of injury and health issues.

Some Vikings fans are going to want to bury memories of Randy Moss departing Minnesota (twice) in their subconscious and assume the Vikings will “pay the man” and that Harvin will get a deal that makes him a Viking for life.

The phrase “where there is smoke there is fire” comes to mind, however.  And the player that has earned the nickname “Cheech” in this corner of the internet seems to always be surrounded by plenty of smoke.

Still, lots of options exist for how this could play out and I want to take a second to look at each one (and there could be more) in great detail.

Pay The Man

The Vikings may never be certain that they have made Harvin permanently happy in Minnesota, but they can always try and then hope for the best, and the best way to do that is by getting out the checkbook.

Entering the final year of his rookie deal Harvin is set to make a paltry $1.55 million in 2013.  Considering the impact he can have on a football game, and his particular need for long term financial security as an injury prone player, it isn’t surprising that Harvin would be willing to go to battle against the Vikings front office in an effort to get guaranteed money.

The question facing the Vikings will be just how much money they are willing to pay their 24 year old game changer.  Agent Joel Segal has been known to milk team’s for all they are worth in regards to his top clients.  Evidence in this can be found in the contracts for Michael Vick (6 years, $100 million), Chris Johnson (6 year, $55 million), and DeAngelo Hall (6 year, $55 million).

More specifically, Segal raided plenty of coffers with receivers of lesser talent than Harvin which include Josh Morgan (2 years, $11.5 million), Marques Colston (5 years, $36.3 million), and Pierre Garcon (5 years, $42.5 million).  Each of these contracts came with considerable, to say the least, guarantees.

He’s been at it for a long time, too, and in 1999 he made Antonio Freeman the highest paid receiver in NFL history with a seven year deal worth $42 million.

I suspect Harvin, on a five year deal, would demand somewhere in the neighborhood of $55 million with about $25 million guaranteed.  That is a hefty price indeed, but one the Vikings might have to pay if they don’t want to reduce their receiver group down to absolutely nothing, a possibility that both Harvin and his agent are well aware of.

The thing to keep in mind about taking on that big of a cap hit for Harvin is that there really is no team in the NFL that can, or does, pay two big money receivers.  With the Vikings obviously needing help at the position, a blockbuster contract for Harvin would be quite the commitment to him and an acceptance that any other real help is going to have to come in the NFL Draft or in the form of low-cost free agent fliers.

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This is coming up at a random time for those of you that maybe don’t read the comments on VT regularly.  The rest of you, well, you know why I’m posting this now.

I ran across a 2007 interview with Adrian Peterson, which you can read here, and wanted to post this quote from Peterson after he was asked about his nickname:

“I’ve been hearing that since I was two. I ran around all the time. Never wanted to stop. Never wanted to sleep. I just kept going all day. My dad and mom gave me the nickname. When I started playing ball, my coaches said the same thing about how I played, that I could go all day.”

So, while fans of the other 31 NFL teams might be content to use the initials of any given player’s birth name in assigning nicknames (initials are initials, though, not nicknames) it is only fitting that a uniquely incredible player like Peterson be assigned something different… as a toddler… a long, long time ago.

It’s “All Day” or “A.D.” and that is that.

Tomorrow cannot be the end of the world.  I haven’t found out if the Vikings make the playoffs yet.  I haven’t witnessed Adrian Peterson break the rushing record.  So many unanswered questions!

Anyways, I wanted to share with you all what I daydream about:  Peterson breaking both the single game record and single game record this week… against the vaunted Texans defense… on the same play.  Pure awesomeness is what that would be.

Here is the best of the best from around the web.  Enjoy!

With Rick Spielman’s first season as the official General Manager of the Minnesota Vikings nearing it’s end (no, I don’t necessarily mean two weeks from now) I wanted to take a look back at the moves that were made to help boost the Vikings from a three win season to an eight (or nine, or ten) win record the next year.

I want to start with the oft-criticized free agent class that he brought in.  The Vikings have really only had five free agent signings to see action this year, not including their own re-signings, so let’s take a look at what each on brought to the table.

TE JOHN CARLSON:  The $25 million contract signed by John Carlson became the butt of many jokes even before he played in his first game.  His production on the field hasn’t helped matters.  A sprained MCL caused him to miss to two games after missing all of his final season with the Seahawks, and it has been speculated that injuries have plagued his production on the field even when he was present.  His 11 catches for 60 yards on the season will surely end in his worst stats, other than the season he didn’t play, since he joined the league.  He has also yet to find the end zone as a Viking.  His solid blocking skills have gone mostly unnoticed by fans, but there are plenty of decent blocking tight ends in this league getting paid far less than Carlson.

Last week’s three reception performance was Carlson’s best of the year and he needs to continue to improve over the next two weeks if he plans on continuing to earn such lucrative salary.  At age 28, there is still some untapped potential there for a guy that has never come close to matching the expectations that scouts had for him in 2008.

GRADE:  D

FB JEROME FELTON:  Felton got off to a bad start in Minnesota when he was nabbed for a second degree DWI in a McDonald’s drive-thru in June.  After that incident, one that he says he learned a huge lesson from, Felton has been instrumental in Adrian Peterson’s record-setting rushing numbers this season.

Peterson hasn’t had as good of chemistry with as talented of a lead blocker since his rookie season when he ran behind Tony Richardson, one of the greatest fullbacks of the modern era.  Felton hasn’t carried the ball at all himself this season, and only has two catches for 18 yards, but there is no doubt that his blocking has added something that was previously missing to this offense.  Makes one wonder how many yards Peterson hasn’t gotten over the years because of Brad Childress and his stubborn support of Fahu Tahi.

Felton signed a one year deal worth $700,000 with a $50,000 signing bonus.  I would say the Vikings should be willing to offer him about twice that annual salary to return for the next year or five.

GRADE:  A

OL GEOFF SCHWARTZ:  After signing a one year deal that maxes out at $1.5 million, Geoff Schwartz has been eased into a rotation at right guard with Brandon Fusco.  By most accounts, including mine, Schwartz has outplayed Fusco but has yet to overtake the position on a full time basis for some unknown reason.  At a backup lineman’s salary, Schwartz has helped his team more than most backups in this league, and turned out to be a low-risk, medium-reward type of signing, despite nagging injury concerns.

GRADE:  C

LB MARVIN MITCHELL:  Another one year deal worth $700,000 here.  Mitchell was signed shortly after Remi Ayodele was released by the Vikings, despite Mitchell’s presence on the 2009 “BountyGate” Saints team as well.  He acted as a “Plan B” to Jasper Brinkley and provided great competition in the preseason, but Brinkley kept his job and has performed rather well in his first year as a full time starter.

A calf injury interrupted part of Mitchell’s season, as he has appeared in only nine games, but he has made a considerable impact on a special teams coverage unit that is greatly improved over last season.

GRADE:  B

WR JEROME SIMPSON:  The Vikings flirted with signing Packers free agent James Jones but shied away from the receiver because they were worried about his inconsistent hands, and instead opted to sign the suspended Simpson from Cincinnati.

Jones has done nothing but catch touchdowns for the Packers this year, his drop problems apparently solved, while Simpson has been incredibly inconsistent… when he manages to make it onto the field.  A three game suspension and injuries have kept Simpson out of four games this season, and bad drops and inconsistent routes have essentially kept him out of the other 10.

19 catches, 203 yards, and no touchdowns are stats that easily illustrate how wrong things have gone for the Vikings deep threat hopeful in 2012.

Spielman left legitimate receiver threats on the market for other teams to scoop up and instead opted to go short term and cheap with Simpson.  The risk was low, but the return has been even lower.

GRADE:  D

CONCLUSION:  Rick Spielman tortured Vikings fans by staying idle during the opening days of free agency in 2012, and has indicated we can expect more of that in the future, as he intends on playing a game of chance with these low risk and low cost signings available after all the funny money has been spent.

Carlson was his lone departure from that formula, and the jury may still be out on that one, but it isn’t looking good.  Luckily, the contract wasn’t quite as bad as initially reported and the Vikings could cut ties with minimal cap damage should they choose to move on.

Overall, Spielman’s approach to free agency led to adding one fantastic fullback, and a handful of otherwise disposable talents.

Not bad, not horrible, but not great.  That about sums up Spielman’s first free agency period as Vikings General Manager.

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A quick look at the biggest injury-related news concerning this Vikings roster at the moment:

PERCY HARVIN:  The Vikings dynamic playmaker only played in nine games before suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him for the remainder of 2012, as they officially placed him on injured reserve on December 5th.  On Sunday Harvin tweeted that he would be having “minor surgery” and it was initially assumed he was talking about his ankle.  Instead, however, Leslie Frazier indicated that Harvin instead had to undergo emergency appendectomy surgery.

When it comes to Percy Harvin, things are never crystal clear, but it does appear that he has no intentions of playing next season without getting a new contract.  His ankle injury (not the appendectomy) only muddies those waters and the Vikings could be in for an ugly fight and some think we may have seen Harvin play his last game as a Viking.

CHRIS COOK:  When Chris Cook suffered a broken arm on October 25th the Vikings had let only two receivers top 100 yards in eight games.  Those two receivers, Donnie Avery and Andre Roberts, were not Cook’s assignment for the day.  They have had much more trouble since then, giving up a pair of monstrous games to Calvin Johnson (207 yards) and Brandon Marshall (160 yards).

Cook is eligible to return next week, just in time to finish the season against Andre Johnson and Greg Jennings, but there is no guarantee that he will.  Leslie Frazier said that the team will be monitoring Cook’s conditioning and make a decision later on in the week.

BRIAN ROBISON:  On Sunday, defensive end Brian Robison made an immediate impact by sacking Sam Bradford early on.  Then, he had to leave the game with a shoulder injury.  Robison is expected to have an MRI done and Frazier said he will probably be day-to-day this week.

Luckily for the Vikings, they have impressive depth at Robison’s position, and Everson Griffen was a more than sufficient replacement on Sunday.

OTHERS:  Count Adrian Peterson and Marcus Sherels among the Vikings that came out of Sunday’s game with some dings and bruises.  Still, nobody other than Cook and Robison are considered to be very questionable for this week’s trip to Houston.

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