Saturday, January 31, 2015
Blog Page 106

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The recent fallout in Miami is a sober reminder that the NFL locker room is not immune to drama, nor is it exempt from workplace misconduct being investigated and punished.  One giant monkey on the back of the Vikings organization continues to be the investigation into the allegations made by punter Chris Kluwe against Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer.

There are many reasons for an individual to note the outcome of the investigation when the time comes.  When you narrow the interest down to just the football ramifications, however, there are no positive outcomes likely.

If the investigators deem that Priefer, General Manager Rick Spielman, Owner Zygi Wilf, or the Vikings organization as a whole are indeed guilty of bigotry and workplace misconduct then heads could roll at Winter Park.  This scenario played out (or is playing out currently) in Miami and it isn’t pretty.

This is the point in the offseason where the coaching ranks have been pretty well picked over and trying to replace a guy like Priefer, who even Kluwe admits is a very good special teams coach, would almost certainly result in a lesser on-field product.  That type of scenario would certainly hinder the team’s chances at success in 2014.

The NFL just completed one of its most misunderstood, but widely covered offseason events, the NFL Combine. Sure, the Combine features some of the most talented athletic bodies in the world competing against each other in feats of strength, speed and endurance. But any front office executive that isn’t lying to you will tell you that the most important event at the Combine is the medical evaluation. Or hold on, it’s the interviews. No, no… it’s the illegal tampering and soft free agent bargaining.

My sources tell me all three things are in fact the single most important thing.

At the very least NFL Insiders want to say that the Combine contains many an event that hardly reaches our eyes and rarely reaches our ears. Some of this is just because NFL Insiders see value in being Insiders, and there’s nothing cool about being an Insider unless there’s information they have that you don’t. But most of this is true, which means that it’s inevitable that rumors leak out and speculation runs wild.

Given that nearly everybody has a vested interest in lying to the public when it comes to football (or at the very least, they think they do even when they don’t), a lot of these rumors are bunk. People who are well within the know can be reliable when it comes to how they acquired the knowledge they peddle, but may not be reliable  in terms of how honest they are or what they choose to hold back.

That said, the Combine has produced quite a few rumors that we can speculate on, many of which may impact the Vikings.

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For most of the postseason, the consensus big board on the drafted quarterbacks has mostly oscillated between a Big Three and a Big Four, where Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles would round out the top of the quarterback class and Derek Carr would occasionally be included.

This is generally common practice for the NFL draft, as usually talent evaluators agree on who is in the top tier and who follows immediately afterwards, with 2013 as a big exception.

But for this year, it looks like draft evaluators are far more split on the subject than they have been on the past, and while rumors of Teddy Bridgewater’s unstable place at the top of the board have been persistent, never has there been this much indecision when it comes to QB rankings. Tony Pauline of Draft Insider reported through Walter Football’s Combine rumors (thanks to the Daily Norseman for this tip) that there’s been a shakeup in what we perceived to be the Top Four:

In conversations here in Indy it’s apparent the quarterbacks stack up 1) Blake Bortles, 2) Teddy Bridgewater, 3) Derek Carr, 4) Johnny Manziel on a number of team boards.

But Pauline isn’t the only one.

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Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk is reporting that the salary cap will increase from $123 million to “more than” $132 million (speculated to potentially reach $135 million), which is more than the $130 million reported last week. That $130 million was a surprise, because it is a greater cap than what was reported in December. That report in December was an increase from a report earlier in the same month that increased the projected cap from $123 million to $126.3 million.

The most interesting impact is that delay in the “true” cap number may end up helping NFL teams, intentionally or not.

The Minnesota Vikings have unusually revealed that they’ve flagged eight prospects this year for worrisome tweets they’ve sent out during and after the season, and have compiled a report on sixty or so potential rookies who caught general manager Rick Spielman’s eye with their active twitter feeds.

All 32 NFL teams are available to the media on the first two days of the combine, usually with one member of the front office and coaching staff answering questions in a presser, and then making themselves to individual members of the media shortly afterwards.

For some front offices and coaching staffs—Jacksonville and San Francisco are good examples—are fairly open and willing to talk shop to a point. National media learns a lot more about their intentions and inner workings on these days and they generally are a fairly interesting bunch.

But for the most part, teams will clam up and be profoundly frustrating and useless. Often, the Vikings are one of those teams.

This year, however, Spielman expanded on a part of the evaluation process that has perhaps been the least opaque part of the Vikings draft strategy: character.

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