Thursday, July 30, 2015

Monthly Archives: March 2013

It has been pretty evident that the Vikings were more than willing to move on into the future without linebacker Jasper Brinkley on the roster.  Now, Brinkley has made certain that’ll be the case by moving on himself.

Brinkley visited with the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals as an unrestricted free agent, and on Thursday he chose the Cardinals.

According to PFT, Brinkley signed a two year deal with Arizona, and the Vikings are currently without a middle linebacker.

For those keeping track at home, the Vikings have lost one player (Brinkley) but have not signed any unrestricted free agents that would count against their 2014 compensatory draft pick formula.  Matt Cassel won’t count against the formula because he wasn’t an unrestricted free agent, he was cut.

The Vikings somewhat shored up the safety position by retaining Jamarca Sanford this offseason, but a secondary depth chart that was already thin on talent before the Vikings released Antoine Winfield could use some new talent to try and keep up in a division with three very capable passing games.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports that the Vikings have contacted cornerback Antoine Cason and free safety Gerald Sensabaugh.  Wolfson says the Vikings are simply doing their due diligence and are making lots of calls, so we probably shouldn’t read too much into this news.

Still, it is encouraging to see the Vikings trying to improve the depth chart in the defensive backfield, as it would be mistake to be content with Marcus Sherels and A.J. Jefferson as two of your top options.

We have already established with pretty good detail that Rick Spielman’s decision to release veteran cornerback, and locker room leader, Antoine Winfield was not a popular one when it came to the fan base.

As it turns out, according to NFL Network‘s Ian Rappaport, the move did not sit well with some “Vikings people” within Winter Park either.

One person told Rappaport that “It’s a move backwards” and he says some “aren’t thrilled” with Spielman’s decision.

I feel like I’ve already beat this topic to death, but I would still like to note that as of Thursday afternoon right tackles Sebastian Vollmer and Andre Smith remain unsigned, which is significant because the decision to break their budget for Phil Loadholt was cited as a reason for Winfield’s abrupt departure.  In fact, other decent offensive tackles are currently available such as Jake Long and Eric Winston, not to mention the many options available in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Rick Spielman has a reputation in Minnesota for letting the market establish itself before making hasty, big-money decisions so it was surprising to see him cave to Loadholt’s demands even if the player was threatening to join the division rival Chicago Bears.

However, recent events are making me wonder if Spielman isn’t overvaluing the players he has had a hand in bringing to Minnesota.  The most recent evidence of this is that the Vikings quickly snatched receiver Jerome Simpson to a one year deal worth $2.1 million.  Not only is that a raise from his 2012 salary of $2 million, but Spielman gave Simpson a $500,000 signing bonus, and a $250,000 workout bonus, according to 1500 ESPN.  The Vikings are betting on Simpson staying healthy (he did pass his physical) and producing far more significantly than he did last season.

Simpson’s pay day comes despite the fact that he never produced more than 50 receiving yards in any game last season and has caught the same amount of touchdown passes from Christian Ponder as I have:  zero.

It is not a huge surprise that fans aren’t a fan of Rick Spielman’s approach to free agency, as he is usually going to shy away from the splashy instant gratification moves that fans love to see, but his decision to cut Winfield is putting everything else he does under a microscope and doing the math to see just why exactly his plan had to involve that questionable decision.

And, according to Rappaport’s report, some within Winter Park are looking pretty closely themselves.

One of the most obvious targets that Vikings speculation swirled about as free agency neared was Packer wide out Greg Jennings.

Well, now we are going to find out whether or not the team and the player think they are a match as Jennings is officially visiting the Vikings in Minnesota.  1500 ESPN reports that Jennings, 29 years old, will have dinner with officials on Thursday night and then visit the team facilities on Friday, but that no deal is imminent.

As we have seen, however, things can move very fast during free agency.

The star Packer has had a couple of down years, mostly due to injury, but he would instantly become the most legitimate weapon in the Vikings passing game after Percy Harvin was dealt to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Minnesota Vikings were patient, waiting for quarterback Matt Cassel to be released instead of trying to trade for him, and that patience has paid off.

Cassel was signed to a two year worth about $4 million per year, according to Viking Update, with a potential to earn more through incentives. Cassel also reportedly has the right to void the contract after the 2013 season.

Cassel represents the first NFL player the Vikings have signed who wasn’t one of their own since free agency began on Tuesday.  Some national experts are reporting that Cassel will compete with Christian Ponder for the starting quarterback spot, but local media is brushing that off since the Vikings are so invested into Ponder, and I tend to think Ponder will be the guy without a doubt.

With that being said, Cassel presents the Vikings with some flexibility at the position.  Joe Webb and McLeod Bethel-Thompson will currently be in line to compete for the number three spot, but one will surely be sent packing as a result of this move, and some speculation that makes sense centers around trying to trade Joe Webb to an option offense team.  The situation will get even more interesting if the Vikings take a page out the Seattle Seahawks playbook in 2012 and decide to use one of their 11 draft picks on a quarterback, as well.

The signing of Cassel come on a day when reciever Greg Jennings is reportedly meeting with the team in Minnesota, and linebacker Brian Urlacher is reportedly of interest, which shows an interesting shift in priorities for the Vikings front office.  It was widely assumed that Rick Spielman and his staff would continue to pursue younger players with upside, as they did last season in an effort to rebuild the roster, but so far most of the serious interest seems to be in veterans.

Cassel is 30 years old.

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