Every year that Rick Spielman has been with the Vikings has produced at least one ambitious and exciting move. Sometimes they have been in the form of player trades (Jared Allen and Percy Harvin), free agent signings (Brett Favre), or Draft Day moving and shaking (Matt Kalil and Cordarrelle Patterson). Even during the seemingly ho-hum offseasons he has produced at least one splash move that gets the fanbase to collectively giggle with glee.
Today’s cuts, as outlined earlier by Arif, are reportedly going to leave the Vikings with a whopping $41 million in cap space. Meanwhile, Spielman is still armed with a full compliment of draft picks.
Right now, most Vikings fans seem to think they have Spielman pegged, that he will predictably spend conservatively in free agency and explore all options to move around throughout Draft Weekend. They think he’ll bargain hunt, perhaps throw his new coach a bone by signing Michael Johnson, and then lean on Norv Turner to pick which quarterback prospect to target in May.
I don’t think it’ll be that predictable.
Call it hunch. Call it reading the tea leaves. Call it looking at the pattern in Spielman’s track record. Call it whatever you want. I just think that Spielman has something cooking and it is bigger than any of us really expect.
Quarterback is obviously this team’s biggest priority (sigh) and all those dots are continuously being connected by fans, analysts, and hack bloggers on a daily basis. After a disappointing 2012 campaign, rumors swirled that San Diego might be willing to deal quarterback Philip Rivers, but he rebounded nicely this year. Was it enough, however, to call a trade absolutely impossible? He is only two seasons away from an expired contract, after all, and is owed a $13.8 million salary from a Chargers team with virtually no cap space to play with this offseason. If you recall, it was Spielman that started the process of prying Jay Cutler away from Denver prior to his trade to Chicago.
Here is another conspiracy theory on the other side of the ball. What if the Vikings decided to finally make a gigantic investment at cornerback and trade for one of the best in the game? The 28 year old Darrelle Revis is currently at the center of swirling rumors that make it seem very likely that the Bucs plan to ship him and his $13 million base salary elsewhere. With the previous regime and their cover-2 scheme this sort of trade would make no sense at all, but Mike Zimmer is a wild card in all of this, as none of know for sure what exactly he has planned.
The Saints seem to be shopping all of their valuable offensive playmakers. With only $1.5 million in cap space at the moment, they are having to shed some weight just to feel comfortable signing their draft class. Lance Moore and Darren Sproles have been two names mentioned as being on the trading block, but what about that giant TE/WR they just placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on?
Jimmy Graham will be paid over $7 million if he plays under the current tight end designated tag. However, if his agent can successfully argue that he is a wide out, then the franchise tag will cost the Saints $12.3 million and really put them in a bind from a cap perspective. Sure, signing Graham to a long-term deal that is cap friendly in 2014 is a solution, but so is entertaining bids for his services from guys like Rick Spielman. Tight end and wide out aren’t exactly pressing needs for the Vikings, but Jimmy Graham is one of those special players that you cannot ignore, and any team would be better with him on it.
So, I put my neck on the line there by thinking outside the box a little. My three scenarios can’t possibly be the only ones out there. I’m curious, what do you all have?
Let me know in the comments section what sort of fireworks show you think Rick Spielman could possibly pull off this offseason. Speculation is a blast, give it a try!