Thursday, August 27, 2015

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Welcome back Viking fans. Hopefully you have had a chance to take a look at the first part of this series, handing out the awards for Most Underrated Player and Rookie of the Year.  If not, take a moment to catch up!

Today, I wanted hand two additional awards: Most Improved Player and Play of the Year.

Let’s jump in.

Playoffs?  Playoffs!?!  We don’t need to talk about PLAYOFFS!

Well, I wish we were talking about the playoffs, but… oh well.  Here are some Vikings links for you to consume while the rest of the world is watching eight other teams:


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Already thinking about 2015 free agency? Take a look at the Vikings top 10 salary cap hits and dead money tied to them.

Earlier this week I found this via twitter and Shane Richardson.

I thought it did a nice job of providing a clean look at where the Vikings top money was headed for next year.

For months, there has been talk about Vikings potentially asking guys like Greg Jennings, Chad Greenway and Adrian Peterson to restructure their contracts.  You can now see why and how much money is tied up in their roster spots.

With Greenway growing older, he looks to be the most likely cap casualty, unless he’s willing to take a reduced deal for a final year in purple.

Peterson is also an obvious candidate for contract reworking, noting his age and off the field circumstances. Additionally, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s emergence as potential offensive leader within the organization, gives the Vikings further leverage.

Peterson’s willingness to remain in Minnesota does depend on the amount of money the Vikings are opting to pay him.  A $15.4M salary cap hit is not something I’m sure the Vikings are taking lightly and with only $2.4M in dead money, cutting Peterson carries limited financial risk for the Vikings.

Jennings does command a larger cap hit, and arguments can be made about his ability to fulfill those expectations, but his dead money number isn’t exactly small and his seemingly growing chemistry with Bridgewater doesn’t give the Vikings many options.

There has been a lot of clamoring for the Vikings to add Larry Fitzgerald during the off season, but I don’t see that happening with the money due to Jennings, and their similar age and current talent level.

With the below par season defensive end Brian Robison had, he looks to be a restructuring candidate as well, but his contract is much more team friendly at this point when compared to those mentioned above.

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Top 10 Vikings Cap Hits, Dead Money & PFF scores for each.

The Vikings are in a very favorable position in terms of cap room, draft position and current roster talent. Although there are obvious holes to be filled, with another strong draft and productive free agency period, the Vikings could be on the up and up in all areas. My hope is that the Vikings take advantage of this and become somewhat aggressive at continuing to improve.

After taking a look, Vikings fans, who would be your top restructuring priorities in order to make the most out of free agency?

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With Ben Goessling of ESPN reporting that Duron Carter has expressed a preference for the Minnesota Vikings above other teams, moving the Colts down the proverbial order of preference. Nothing’s done yet, as it seems like money may be what sways him.

Goessling is right that that is big money for a CFL player. Top CFL receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux received league minimum and no signing bonus to join with the Vikings (and later Washington and the New York Jets). The previous report of Vikings being a favorite comes from Viking Update.

This is beginning to feel a lot like college recruiting. Don’t be surprised if he flips his decision at the last moment. As Miller reported, there could be a sleeper steal in the Carolina Panthers—the opportunity to work with Cam Newton and a depleted receiver corps, along with some money, could be big.

He happens to have a scouting report on Duron Carter up:

Wide Receiver Duron Carter, Free Agent (6’5″, 209 lbs)


  • Powerful, explosive move off the line of scrimmage.
  • Has a long, lean frame with excellent wingspan and hand size.
  • Adjusts well to the ball in the air and shows good body control on the move.
  • Has produced well against professional athletes in CFL last two seasons.
  • Can play both in the slot or on the boundary with success.
  • Dominant over the middle and isn’t afraid to make catches in traffic.
  • Solid route-runner with an ankle-breaking inside move on slants and posts.
  • Very tough, plays with a chip on his shoulder.


  • Very limited college football experience.
  • Played at Ohio State and Coffeyville Community College. Enrolled at Alabama and FAU, but never played there.
  • Went undrafted in 2013 NFL draft due to concerns about maturity and work ethic.
  • Has a reputation for being high-maintenance.
  • Struggled in CFL to beat a jam and work through physical cornerbacks.
  • Tried to make the Sportscenter catch too often and passed up sure-handed grabs.

Pro Player Comparison: Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers

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After three seasons, the 2012 Minnesota Vikings draft class is a bright spot on Rick Spielman’s curriculum vitae.

Harrison Smith, regardless of what the Pro Bowl roster says about him, is one of the NFL’s best young safeties and the Vikings will probably want to lock him up for the long-term very soon.  Josh Robinson, Jarius Wright, Rhett Ellison, Robert Blanton, Blair Walsh, and Audie Cole are all later-round players that have been positive contributors during their three years as Vikings.

Greg Childs was the casualty of a freak injury and seventh-round pick Trevor Guyton is now in Canada, but otherwise that group has been very productive.

One of the biggest question marks from this class, however, is the guy they drafted first and the guy that was heralded by many (myself included) as a “can’t-miss prospect.”  Left tackle Matt Kalil has been so underwhelming over the last two seasons that some Vikings fans are going so far as to wonder if the Vikings aren’t already scheming to replace him.

These fans are certainly going to be perplexed if the Vikings decide to pick up Kalil’s fifth year option this May when the decision needs to be made.

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