Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Blog Page 133

The name Jasper Brinkley causes some Vikings fans to shudder as they recall his final season with the Vikings two years ago.  He started 15 games that season, after missing a season to injury, and the results were not overly inspiring.  After his four years with the Vikings, Brinkley signed as a free agent with Arizona last offseason.

Arizona then drafted rookie linebacker Kevin Minter.  Brinkley started three games before the rookie took over and Brinkley was released in February.

At 28 years old, Brinkley doesn’t seem like the type of guy that is suddenly going to get any faster or develop impressive coverage skills (both weaknesses of his), but I will admit that I have never been as down on his performances as many fans and analysts have been.  He is a downhill player that can deliver the big hit, but it is mistake to think he can cover a tight end like Vernon Davis on a deep seam route.  He has his limitations, but he also has his value.

In landing back in Minnesota, Brinkley has land in perhaps the best possible position available to him in the NFL, as the Vikings currently have a wide open vacancy at middle linebacker.  Audie Cole and Michael Mauti are expected to compete with Brinkley in training camp for the starting honors, but another free agent signing or significant draft selection could certainly see them all fighting to remain employed as backups.

Brinkley should be entering the 2014 season fully healthy (I don’t believe he was in 2012), seems to be liked well enough by his former teammates, and he’s already back to his ways of making headlines for all the right reasons off the field.  Even newly signed cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said the presence of Brinkley during his visit to Minnesota helped recruit him to join the Vikings, as they were roommates in college.

His contract is very low risk and, since he was released by Arizona, will not count against the Vikings in the compensatory pick formula.  Brinkley’s contract included only $25,000 in guarantees, according to Spotrac, and carries a total cap hit of only $830,000.

In the end Brinkley’s return is a low-risk and probably low-reward one for Rick Spielman.  He is never going to become a consistent game-changer and dominant force, but I do believe he can help a run defense that struggled greatly in 2013, if he is called up to do so.  If he doesn’t have a future with Mike Zimmer and the Vikings, however, they can simply part ways with him and move on… again.

Adam’s Grade:  B

 

 

by -
26

While the full numbers haven’t been released yet, it’s good news that the Minnesota Vikings have re-signed wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who almost exclusively play the split end role for them.

Simpson is cheap starting-quality talent and good depth to be had on a team suddenly brimming with receiver talent. Simpson had been pursued by other teams, but having him with the Vikings allow them to take advantage of the chemistry he’s built with the rest of the team as they learn the new offense.

I’ve advocated signing Simpson before, so there’s not much to add—

Jerome Simpson was the Minnesota Vikings’ leading receiver until the 14th game of the season, where Greg Jennings overtook him. Simpson, previous of the Cincinnati Bengals, has been on the same team as head coach Mike Zimmer, but they worked on opposite sides of the ball.

If the Vikings re-sign Simpson to the same price as before ($2.1 million in cap space, or $1.35 base salary, $250k in LBTE incentives and $500k in guaranteed signing bonus) it should be a good deal for both parties. Simpson isn’t a stellar receiver, but he’s a legitimate starting talent that can be phased into extremely good depth should Cordarrelle Patterson or Jarius Wright take over.

Just like with Jamarca Sanford or Phil Loadholt, Minnesota Vikings fans shouldn’t let previous poor performances blind them to good performances last year (or in Sanford and Loadholt’s case, the last two years), especially as Simpson suffered a back injury throughout most of the year. He’s not a super star, but he was never sold (or paid) as one. Not everyone on a team needs to be special for a team to have an excellent offense, and Simpson can be great value, especially as a rotational player.

This doesn’t preclude the Vikings from grabbing a receiver in an obscenely rich draft, one of the few positions that not only has depth, but strong talent at the top (other positions, notably QB, have a lot of depth but not a lot at the top). He can have 60 yards a game in him, which is nearly 1000-yards in a full season, should Simpson avoid suspension.

The second-best receiver on NFL teams averaged below that, with 54 yards a game and Simpson will likely be asked to be the third or fourth option for most games, behind Patterson, Jennings and Rudolph (third options have averaged just over 40 yards a game, most of them tight ends).

Having a flatter distribution of receiving talent on the field (avoiding a huge drop between #2 and #3 or #3 and #4) can be hugely important not just for depth and continuity in case of injury, but because progressions need to be designed to increase success rate for quarterbacks; should the pre-snap read tell the quarterback to read one half of the field, and the first option is covered, that usually means throwing to the #3 or #4 option because the other half of the field had the second-best receiver.

Listing third receivers on teams makes it even easier to see the comparison. He may not be as good as Tony Gonzalez or James Jones, but he’s far better than players like Marlon Brown, Rueben Randle and Heath Miller—offenses that may have struggled last year, but clearly have franchise quarterbacks.

Good move by the Vikings.

by -
13

Since 2010, NFL cornerback Marcus Sherels has played on a season-by-season basis.  Each summer that Sherels makes it through the Vikings training camp and onto the roster, it is a small victory for the 26-year-old.

This season is a different story.

Sherels proves first-hand that hard work and determination will go a long way in this league.  As stated in an earlier VT posting, Sherels found himself signing a multi-year contract with the Vikes. Sherels was a restricted free agent at the timehe was also the first FA Minnesota signed.  The new deal will give him $2.2 million over the next two seasons, including a $300,000 signing bonus.

A native of Minnesota, Sherels attended John Marshall High School in Rochester. He then went on to play for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, earning a scholarship after initially joining the football program as a walk on.

Sherels did not find an easy path to the NFL.  In fact, he went undrafted in 2010. Minnesota signed him to the practice squad during the 2010 preseason but cut him before the end of the month to make room for tight end John Nalbone. On October 13, however, Sherels was re-signed to the practice squad and Nalbone released.

The excitement of free agency has yet to wear down, but the details of certain contracts are starting to be revealed.  Yesterday we looked at the hefty deal given to defensive end Everson Griffen and most of you thought it was worthy of an “A” or “B” grade.  Now we’re looking at the guy we had listed as the top Vikings free agent of the offseason (Griffen was number two).

Quarterback Matt Cassel had leverage the minute he voided the second and final year of his contract with the Vikings.  It was arguably impossible for the Vikings to find a free agent better than Cassel and Christian Ponder was the only quarterback left on the roster.  Thus, he was able to gain more money and slightly more long-term security by doing so.

Cassel, who had a hand in each of the Vikings wins from last season, remains with the team under a new two year deal worth up to $10.5 million.  According to Spotrac, Cassel’s deal $5.65 million in guarantees and he will a $5.75 million cap hit this season.  The Vikings could cut ties next season with minimal impact to the cap situation.

Cassel still isn’t any sort of long-term franchise quarterback at 31 years old, but Rick Spielman would have been totally hanging his neck out there if he went into May’s Draft with Christian Ponder as his only viable option at the league’s most important position.  The Cassel signing gives the Vikings a playable quarterback, a trustworthy veteran mentor, and some much needed flexibility in the Draft.

Adam’s Grade:  A

After signing Captain Munnerlyn to a three year contract, the Vikings apparently continued their quest for secondary help, and the result is a reported deal with Derek Cox.

Cox has five years of NFL experience and most recently spent last season in San Diego, playing all 16 games with them.  He was a third round selection of the Jaguars in 2009 and was there for his first four NFL seasons.  He has 13 career interceptions and appears to be healthy again after some injuries caused him to slump for a couple of seasons.

At age 27, Cox joins an aggressive campaign to improve Minnesota’s defense in short order, and the competition will be fairly intense when training camp rolls around.  Still, Cox is not a guy to sleep on, and has the size (6′ 1″ and 195 pounds) to succeed if called upon.

More details will be posted here as they become available.

Get Social

2,723FansLike
4,666FollowersFollow