Sunday, April 26, 2015
Blog Page 147

Photo Courtesy of
Photo Courtesy of

The Vikings claimed Shaun Prater off waivers on October 22, 2013 from the Philadelphia Eagles. Prater was originally drafted in the fifth round with pick 156 in 2012 by the Cincinnati Bengals. A knee injury derailed his rookie season and forced him on injured reserve for almost the entire year.

Geoff Hobson, the editor for wrote this about Prater last March.

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The rumors around the league are flying before free agency starts, and with backup quarterback Matt Cassel signed, the most obvious positions of need that free agency is well-equipped at addressing are becoming hot commodities to talk about.

The premier cornerback in free agency seems to be Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner, who had an excellent season last year, and has been a very good player since his introduction to the league from UCLA in 2010. In fact, in the last four years, Verner ranks 18th in adjusted yards per attempt given up of all cornerbacks who have had 1000 snaps in that period, and 12th of all CBs who have had 2000 snaps. In the more instructive, yet still flawed, yards-per-attempt given up metric, Verner ranks 7th and 5th of the two groups of CBs.

It remains, no matter how it is sliced, that Verner has been very good on film and in the box score, and his reputation as a physical, hard-nosed corner who helps in the run game can only help him. Given that he’s spent some time (successfully) defending the slot position, his value only increases.

It’s hardly a surprise, but the Minnesota Vikings are interested in him.

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The Minnesota Vikings have decided to once again carry linebacker Jasper Brinkley on their roster, a linebacker they drafted in 2009. The one-year contract (no numbers are out yet) seems to signal a prove-it deal, and might represent Brinkley’s last shot in the NFL.

In his rookie year, he saw limited duty as a reserve, then as a starter after E.J. Henderson went down. He had a pretty good game against Carolina in that time, but was largely absent from the field. In 2010, he only played in 18 snaps, and he missed all of 2011 with a hip injury. After returning from injured reserve, hopes were high for Brinkley as Vikings fans hoped he could replace E.J. Henderson, who had a poor 2011 due to swelling in his repaired femur and was not re-signed for the 2012 season.

Unfortunately, Brinkley lived up to his scouting report as a linebacker poor in coverage and graded out to have some of the worst coverage in the NFL among inside linebackers, while his performance as a run defender was merely adequate. After that one year as a starter, the Vikings moved on, and Brinkley signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an ILB while Daryl Washington served out a four-game suspension and Kevin Minter developed as a rookie.

Brinkley was relegated to depth when Washington returned and cut recently by Arizona. Brinkley always had a reputation as a run-stuffing linebacker without much  ability in the passing game, and he retained that reputation throughout his early play in Arizona. While he did far better there in his 200 snaps than he ever did in Arizona, Todd Bowles demanded more from his linebackers, especially at a position of strength.

The Vikings bringing Brinkley in just means that they’ll have more depth at a position of weakness as they approach camp; there’s little chance, that Brinkley will be the starter in 2014, unless Zimmer determines that Brinkley wins the camp battles.

Should Brinkley play in 2014 like he did in 2013, he would actually be very good depth as a two-down linebacker, but not much more than that. If his true talent is closer to his 2012 film, then there’s little reason he should stay on the roster throughout training camp. Either way, don’t expect the Vikings to use this as the answer at middle linebacker.

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The Minnesota Vikings have inked their current defensive end Everson Griffen to a new, “huge,” 5-year deal according to Ian Rapaport.

This is obviously enormously good news for Everson Griffen, and I think it should be said good news for the Minnesota Vikings. Despite the fact that the contract might be large, the Vikings may have gotten away with a lot in signing Griffen to a relatively long-term deal, with a high guaranteed salary and an average of $8.5 million.

With this signing, a few dominoes fall, as well. This makes it massively unlikely that the Vikings pursue or sign Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, and also resolves some of the issues with the 2014 NFL draft, pushing defensive end further down the needs chart.

The bigger story is what this means for Griffen, both on and off the field.

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On the cusp of the “legal tampering period,” Ian Rapaport reports that the Minnesota Vikings have re-signed veteran quarterback Matt Cassel.

Earlier today, the Vikings also announced that they resigned cornerback and punt returner Marcus Sherels.

Cassel may have been an extremely up-and-down quarterback this last year, but this re-signing is probably a good thing. It may mean that the Vikings wouldn’t go after potentially more tantalizing targets like Michael Vick or Josh McCown, but with those two at the top of the free agency market for quarterbacks, it wasn’t a good group to begin with.

Between Cassel and Ponder, Cassel showed significantly higher highs, but also on occasion lower lows, with his game-by-game performance:

Cassel and Ponder's game-by-game performance, according to various metrics
Cassel and Ponder’s game-by-game performance, according to various metrics

While Ponder was more consistent, he was consistently bad, while Cassel’s volatility produced above-average games. Even from a film-perspective, the difference between Cassel against Philadelphia, one of the single-most compelling performances for any quarterback this year, and his game against Seattle or Carolina, both depressing.

Cassel did a better job using the tools available to him on a more frequent basis and is still honestly one of the better backup quarterbacks in a league sorely lacking in quarterback options.

The roster needs to have a number of quarterbacks. They won’t all be young or have massive upside. Cassel can fill the role of a backup quarterback just fine, and could potentially help groom the next young Vikings quarterback, which is all he will be asked to do.

As for Sherels, he’s a player whose talent has gone from questionable to hopeful. His short period as a slot cornerback this year was promising (although he did have major miscues) and it looks like he could continue to be solid depth as a nickel corner while remaining one of the better punt returners in the league.


Update: Matt Cassel’s deal was two years for $10 million, which improves his option base salary of $3.75 million to an average salary of $5 million. Presumably, there is also more guaranteed money.

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