Tuesday, October 6, 2015

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According to Jason La Canfora at CBS, owners were informed that the 2015 Salary Cap for the NFL will rise, possibly up to $142 million.

The fact that it could rise even higher than that means a lot when it comes to contracts. Because the amount of space a player takes up on a team’s overall payroll is the only thing worth caring about when it comes to player contracts (unless you have a moral objection to a particular player or group of players drawing large sums of money), this changes the 2015 landscape for a number of teams, including the Vikings.

Here’s a table (courtesy of OverTheCap.com) below with the 2015 cap hits for Vikings players and what percentage of the cap they take up. Next to the two different columns for the different caps is a column that looks at how much of the cap their average cap hit took up in the year they signed with Minnesota:

Player Signed Cap Hit Percent (138.6M Cap) Percent (141.8M Cap) Original Avg When Signed
Adrian Peterson 2012 $15,400,000 11.1% 10.9% 12.2%
Greg Jennings 2013 $11,000,000 7.9% 7.8% 7.3%
Chad Greenway 2011 $8,800,000 6.3% 6.2% 6.6%
Everson Griffen 2014 $8,200,000 5.9% 5.8% 6.4%
Phil Loadholt 2013 $6,750,000 4.9% 4.8% 5.1%
Kyle Rudolph 2014 $6,550,000 4.7% 4.6% 5.3%
Matt Kalil 2012 $6,290,644 4.5% 4.4% 4.1%
John Sullivan 2012 $5,750,000 4.1% 4.1% 3.9%
Brian Robison 2011 $5,450,000 3.9% 3.8% 4.3%
Matt Cassel 2013 $4,750,000 3.4% 3.3% 3.8%
Linval Joseph 2014 $4,600,000 3.3% 3.2% 4.7%
Captain Munnerlyn 2014 $3,833,333 2.8% 2.7% 2.9%
Brandon Fusco 2014 $3,550,000 2.6% 2.5% 3.2%
Ben Tate 2014 $2,950,000 2.1% 2.1% 2.2%
Anthony Barr 2014 $2,896,272 2.1% 2.0% 2.4%
Charlie Johnson 2011 $2,500,000 1.8% 1.8% 2.4%
Jerome Felton 2013 $2,500,000 1.8% 1.8% 1.8%
Harrison Smith 2012 $2,271,355 1.6% 1.6% 1.5%
Sharrif Floyd 2013 $2,202,600 1.6% 1.6% 1.7%
Xavier Rhodes 2013 $2,129,046 1.5% 1.5% 1.6%
Cordarrelle Patterson 2013 $1,969,376 1.4% 1.4% 1.5%
Teddy Bridgewater 2014 $1,556,705 1.1% 1.1% 1.3%
Marcus Sherels 2013 $1,250,000 0.9% 0.9% 0.9%
Andrew Sendejo 2013 $1,066,668 0.8% 0.8% 0.7%
Josh Robinson 2012 $950,250 0.7% 0.7% 0.6%
Jarius Wright 2012 $765,027 0.6% 0.5% 0.5%
J’Marcus Webb 2014 $745,000 0.5% 0.5% 0.2%
Rhett Ellison 2012 $735,146 0.5% 0.5% 0.3%
Robert Blanton 2012 $712,763 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Scott Crichton 2014 $705,507 0.5% 0.5% 0.6%
Gerald Hodges 2013 $690,027 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Blair Walsh 2012 $689,483 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Shaun Prater 2013 $660,000 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Audie Cole 2013 $660,000 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Jerick McKinnon 2014 $648,750 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Jeff Locke 2013 $631,048 0.5% 0.4% 0.5%
Michael Mauti 2013 $600,682 0.4% 0.4% 0.5%
Chase Ford 2013 $585,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Joe Banyard 2013 $585,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Zach Line 2013 $585,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
David Yankey 2014 $561,725 0.4% 0.4% 0.5%
Antone Exum 2014 $538,947 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Shamar Stephen 2014 $526,287 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Brandon Watts 2014 $525,612 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Jabari Price 2014 $525,455 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Antonio Richardson 2014 $510,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Austin Wentworth 2014 $510,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Charles Johnson 2014 $510,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Adam Thielen 2014 $510,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%

The total adds up to $129 million, which doesn’t account for the fact that perhaps half of the young players will end up cut cap-free or on the practice squad. the Vikings have a negligible dead space hit for 2015 (so far) at only $264,000. With new rookies coming in and some of these young players being pushed out, expect the cap number to be somewhere between $131-$133 million or so without any changes. That gives the Vikings somewhere between $5.6 million and $10.8 million. I’m not comfortable with that number, so expect to see some restructuring, trading or outright cutting when it comes to Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Greg Jennings and perhaps Brian Robison.

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Oft-injured linebacker Michael Mauti, who didn’t appear in last week’s injury report, has been placed on injured reserve by the Vikings, the team announced. There’s still no word on what kind of injury it was, but if it’s another knee injury, that may be it for Mauti’s career.

While at Penn State, the former stud linebacker prospect suffered from three separate ACL tears between both of his knees (as well as an ankle and shoulder injury). Once considered a late-first round, early-second round prospect, Mauti was drafted by the Vikings in the seventh round. Folks have had high hopes for him, both inside and outside of the organization, but he had yet to capture a starting spot or a primary backup spot with the team, instead operating as a special teams ace for the time being, despite the weakness the Vikings have had at the position.

With the open roster spot, the Vikings have signed tackle Carter Bykowski, a Minnesota native from Eden Prairie (which means he played for Bud Grant’s son, Mike Grant). He was picked in the seventh round by the San Francisco 49ers after playing for Iowa State, and spent two years on their practice squad before the Vikings signed him. The scouting reports on him from the 2013 draft are fairly varied. Gil Brandt loved his size and thought he deserved fourth-round consideration because of it. Here are the scouting reports from Draft Insider, FF Toolbox and ESPN:

Draft Insider:

Positive: Athletic offensive line prospect with nice upside to his game. Solid position blocker who makes good use of angles, keeps his feet moving, and seals opponents from the play. Works to bend his knees, quickly gets into blocks, and stays with the action. Large enough to turn defenders off the line and shows good footwork in pass protection. Improved as a pass blocker last season and shows better than average footwork off the edge.

Negative: Ducks his head and overextends in blocks. Possesses average strength and doesn E(TM)t finish off opponents.
Analysis: Bykowski is a late bloomer, yet a prospect who watched his game take off the past 18 months. He’s a practice-squad prospect who must improve his playing strength and refine his technique, but he is worth the investment on a practice squad.

Iowa State Cyclones offensive tackle Carter Bykowski began his career as a tight end and transitioned to the offensive line in his redshirt freshman year. Lacks ideal foot speed. Could play multiple spots depending on his development. Potential swing tackle that can provide depth. Above-average physicality when blocking. Finishes strong and always plays to the whistle. Developmental prospect who can be groomed into a specific role. Some suggest an eventual move to left tackle, but that may be a few years away as he learns to better handle speed on the edge.

Bykoski plays with an edge. However, he is a bit heavy-footed and struggles to move laterally against more explosive edge-rushers. He might be best suited to bump inside to guard at the NFL level.

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After Teddy Bridgewater’s stellar performance against the New York Jets on Sunday, Teddy Bridgewater—a two-time winner of the Pepsi Rookie of the Week Award—is up for the award for a third time. Though last time, there were perhaps some questions about the relative merit of Bridgewater against players like Donte Moncrief and Tre Mason, he definitely played a big role in helping the team win.

This week, there should be little doubt that Teddy well deserves the consideration. From my player recap of the game:

Teddy Bridgewater is clearly progressing as a quarterback, with a very impressive game whose statistics undersell his contribution to the offense. An interception on a Hail Mary at the end of the half and a fumbled touchdown pass (that still scored points) take away from an outing that is closer to excellent than average. Though the Vikings offense struggled at times, it was rarely his fault—his biggest flaw in the game was excusable and corrected by the end of the game, which was a tendency to drop his eyes when moving away from pressure, biggest in the third down.

Still, he made some tremendous plays under pressure and made very few, if any mistakes. His decisionmaking after the snap was smart without being overly cautious. It seems like the pre-draft canard about his deep ball is fading by the wayside in these last two games, as both of his very deep attempts in this game were very good—a perfectly placed basket catch to Charles Johnson, followed by a shot under pressure and on the move that was a little underthrown but well-placed enough given the circumstances, not reeled in by Johnson.

The Vikings didn’t give Bridgewater the ability to showcase himself too much, opting to run on almost every first down with Matt Asiata instead of passing, but when he could make plays, he did. Of the eight incompletions Bridgewater is charged with, at least one was a throwaway and another was that Hail Mary interception mentioned above. A third was the deep ball to Johnson under pressure.

The biggest moment of the game seems like a touchdown that had little to do with Teddy, but Bridgewater checked out of the first play in response to a blitz look by the Jets and threw a screen with man advantage to his right—allowing Wright to run 87 yards for a touchdown.

If one were to wash away the Hail Mary interception and grant Teddy the touchdown that Charles Johnson fumbled at the goal line, his adjusted net yards per attempt rises from 9.7 adjusted net yards per attempt (higher than any other quarterback’s average this year) to 11.7, higher than all but 17 individual performances this year so far. His passer rating (117.7) rises to 145.6 in those circumstances, the ninth-highest individual performance this year.

Teddy was accurate, concise in his decisions, clean in the pocket and extraordinarily aware in the Vikings win. He looks like who the Vikings were developing him to be and the quarterback that the draft community fell in love with.

The other players Teddy will have to compete with are:

  • Derek Carr, earning a Pro Football Focus grade of +2.3, with a 28-attempt improbable win over their Bay Area rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. Carr completed 22 of 28 (78.6 percent) of his passes, and averaged 9.1 yards per attempt. His passer rating was 140.2 and he had an adjusted net yards per attempt of 10.5. Though Teddy’s Hail-Mary and passer rating adjusted throws exceeded Carr, you shouldn’t be surprised if Carr got the nod.
  • Andre Williams, who earned a +0.8 grade that week from Pro Football Focus and 131 yards on the ground on 24 tries (5.5 yards a carry). he also gained 16 yards in the air.
  • Bene Benwikere, who though allowing 8 catches on ten targets, only allowed 48 total yards, along with an interception and two pass deflections, earning a Pro Football Focus score of +4.0, the second-highest of any cornerback this week.
  • Martavis Bryant, who earned a Pro Football Focus score of +0.7 by grabbing 109 yards on six targets (and four catches) for a touchdown.

You can vote here.

Be sure to vote for Teddy for both that award and the GMC Never Say Never award, which rewards players for heroic comebacks and gritty performances from behind to beat the odds. As a reminder, Teddy is eligible for the award for checking into the winning play against the zero-blitz the Jets were going to send, an 87-yard screen pass to Jarius Wright. He’s up against Andrew Luck, who led an insane comeback against the Cleveland Browns and Drew Stanton, who took the lead back from the Chiefs with four minutes left in their game.

As a reminder, Luck had to rally back after throwing two interceptions, and held off the lead because Brian Hoyer threw an interception to end the game—which otherwise would have resulted in a tie because Luck failed to convert the two-point conversion—while Stanton received the ball from an Alex Smith interception and led a drive from a short field (the Chiefs’ 42) in order to win. Alex Smith got the ball back with a minute to go in his own territory and threw four consecutive screens from his own 31.

Not that I’m biased. Vote for Teddy!

Even with only the smallest of playoff chances left to be hopeful for, the Vikings managed to give us another encouraging win that provides some hope for the future under Mike Zimmer.  This win wasn’t the prettiest of efforts, but the fact that there was so much effort is a nice sign.

Our past winners as voted on by all you good looking folks:

WEEK ONE:  Cordarrelle Patterson

WEEK TWO: Harrison Smith

WEEK THREE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK FOUR: Teddy Bridgewater

WEEK FIVE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK SIX:  Linval Joseph

WEEK SEVEN: Everson Griffen

WEEK EIGHT:  Anthony Barr

WEEK NINE:  Everson Griffen

WEEK ELEVEN: Charles Johnson

WEEK TWELVE:  Xavier Rhodes

WEEK THIRTEEN:  Everson Griffen

As you can see, the defense is unsurprisingly dominating this contest (9 of 12), with Harrison Smith and Everson Griffen tied for the lead with three awards each.

This weeks nominations are…

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The Vikings and the Jets have released their inactives lists for the game today. Injury report and inactive list below:

McKinnon, Jerick RB Low Back DNP DNP DNP Out IR
Barr, Anthony LB Knee DNP DNP DNP Doubtful Inactive
Price, Jabari CB Hamstring DNP DNP DNP Doubtful Inactive
Line, Zach FB Hip None Inactive
Watts, Brandon LB Knee None Inactive
Yankey, David G Neck None Inactive
Webb, J’Marcus T Ankle None Inactive
Crichton, Scott DE Rib None Inactive
Ellison, Rhett TE Ankle DNP LP LP Probable Active
Floyd, Sharrif DT Knee DNP LP LP Probable Active
Ford, Chase TE Hamstring/Foot LP LP FP Probable Active
Rudolph, Kyle TE Abdomen/Groin FP FP FP Probable Active

No huge surprises here, but it is a disappointment that Anthony Barr won’t be able to play for the Vikings, especially given that his replacement, Gerald Hodges, hasn’t been spectacular against the run. The Vikings are playing against a team that is historic in its commitment to the run, so that could end up interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see much of Josh Robinson today almost exclusively because the Vikings would rather have more linebackers on the field in order to deal with the Jets’ run emphasis and even cover for some of Hodges’ potential weaknesses in this area. At least Hodges has good range, even if it’s not the same as Barr’s.

All three tight ends are active, even if all three are injured. The Jets have given up 12 touchdowns to tight ends, so this may become relevant. On the other hand, they haven’t given up an unusual number of yards to tight ends, preferring to let receivers do damage against them.

Justin Trattou, the player just promoted from the practice squad to take Jerick McKinnon’s spot on the roster after he went on injured reserve, is active. Surprising, considering he plays the same position as Scott Crichton, but is ahead of him on the depth chart.

The Vikings have announced that Gerald Hodges will start at SLB, Matt Asiata at RB and Charles Johnson at WR.

Amaro, Jace TE Concussion DNP DNP DNP Out Inactive
Thomas, Josh DB Illness DNP FP FP Probable Inactive
Wilkerson, Muhammad DL Toe DNP DNP DNP Out Inactive
Dozier, Dakota OL None N/A Inactive
Simms, Matt QB None N/A Inactive
Powell, Walter WR None N/A Inactive
Johnson, Wesley OL None N/A Inactive
Cumberland, Jeff TE Illness DNP LP FP Probable Active
Folk, Nick K Hip DNP LP FP Probable Active
Kerley, Jeremy WR Illness DNP LP FP Probable Active
Salas, Greg WR Hamstring DNP DNP FP Probable Active
Colon, Willie OL Shoulder/Knee FP FP FP Probable Active
Johnson, Chris RB Knee FO FP FP Probable Active

No surprises. As noted earlier, it’s a good thing for the Vikings that Muhammad Wilkerson is out, as he’s arguably the best two-gapping player in the NFL. That doesn’t mean the Vikings are in the clear in regards to a run offense that doesn’t have Jerick McKinnon or Adrian Peterson, and instead will rely on an unimpressive and rotating set of running backs. The rest of the Jets’ run defense is very strong, and the Vikings will have to take to air in order to generate offense.

Amaro hasn’t been a factor this season, so his absence due to concussion won’t play a big role, especially because the Jets would have to pass for that to be the case.

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