Friday, May 29, 2015
Blog Page 171

It is pretty hard to argue that Matt Cassel was anything other than the Vikings best quarterback in 2013.  It is also hard to argue that they don’t need to improve at the position and can’t afford to take steps backwards.

1500ESPN’s Darren Wolfson, however, reports that source told him Wednesday that Matt Cassel intends to void the second and final year of his Minnesota Contract.  If he indeed goes through with it, then he is essentially wagering that he can do better than the $3.7 million one-year deal he would have been playing for in 2014.

Many have expressed surprise that Cassel would bail on a nice payday like what he was owed, but I am not at all surprised.  I listed Cassel as the Vikings top internal free agent candidate and actually assumed he would void the deal.  With such slim pickings at the quarterback position this offseason when it comes to free agents, he could easily be trading a nice one year deal for a nice longer-term deal.

Both Josh McCown and Michael Vick are a few years older than Cassel, so is arguably the most attractive free agent option at the position this offseason.  He won’t be breaking anyone’s bank, that is for sure, but I’m sure he’ll come out of this with more long-term stability than if he had played under the one year deal.

The only real question for the Vikings at this point is whether or not they want to attempt to re-sign Cassel for more money and commitment, or begin the offseason by taking a small step backwards at the quarterback position while also clearing some cap space.  It would not be a total shocker to see Cassel still end up back in Minnesota to play under Norv Turner.

With quarterback Josh Freeman also scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, it is entirely possible that Christian Ponder is this team’s only quarterback option at this moment in time.

Marco Polo was an Italian merchant traveler who found fame for his exploration and adventure. Polo’s critics claimed that he was somewhat of a wanderer—not always knowing exactly where he was headed.

 Finding that “Franchise” quarterback in the NFL Draft can be a hit-or-miss venture reminiscent of a Marco Polo expedition. And, it can also be blind chance, much like that silly childhood hide-and-seek pool game we all know and love.

Anyway, one Italian name attempting to navigate up NFL Draft boards is Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. At the moment, he is not projected as a first round pick, but teams in the top ten like Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland and Minnesota who might be shopping for a quarterback, could hold off on spending their first pick on a signal-caller in hopes of landing Garoppolo at the top of round two or three.

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Josh Robinson, Chris Cook

At just 23 years old, Minnesota Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson holds two years of pro experience and is making a bigger impact on the league with each and every game.

Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Robinson started playing football in fourth grade. It didn’t begin with organized little league and fundamentals; rather, Robinson found it fun to just play around with friends. “I grew up playing street ball!” he exclaimed.

Robinson loved the game from Day One and was clearly a natural athlete. However, the cornerback says he didn’t see the NFL as a very real option until after his second year of college. As a junior at the University of Central Florida, Robinson started all 12 games at corner and recorded 48 tackles, 15 passes broken up, and two interceptions—with one returned for a touchdown. He also returned seven punts (51 yards) and four kickoffs (94 yards).

That same year, the UCF Knights beat Georgia in their first-ever bowl win. “I was able to face an elite WR in AJ Green, which gave me a lot of confidence,” Robinson said. Finding consistent success against top receivers and being encouraged by a strong coaching staff, Robinson started down the path to the pros.

Robinson played college ball under the direction of head coach George O’Leary, who had previously served as the Vikings defensive coordinator under Tice. At UCF, O’Leary described Robinson as having “great closing speed and great transition speed.” This statement certainly proved true at the 2012 NFL Combine—the cornerback ran a 4.33 40-yard dash. Several teams took notice of the impressive combine numbers, but two months later, Robinson ironically found himself drafted by his coach’s former team.

 The well-traveled Norv Turner is officially the new Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator. Unless Turner decides to show a new wrinkle at age 61, it’s safe to say the Vikings will employ a vertical passing attack mixed with a power running game long known as the Air Coryell offensive system.

 Turner takes over a Vikings’ offense that was ranked 23rd in passing in 2013, yet he has plenty of talent at the skill positions to work with moving forward. Norv Turner must be sleeping easy at night thinking about the damage Adrian Peterson could do running out of a spread formation. And the thought of a big TE like Kyle Rudolph with great hands and enough speed to stretch the field vertical, certainly has him dreaming of sugar-plums and candy canes. But possibly the sweetest vision dancing in Turner’s head might be his plan to develop Cordarrelle Patterson as one of the top wide receivers in the NFL.

 Before all the dreaming can become a reality though, Turner must find the long term answer at the quarterback position. The Vikings have the eighth pick in this year’s draft, so you can bet landing a franchise quarterback is high on Turners wish list.

 What does a typical Air Coryell quarterback look like? What quarterbacks in the 2014 draft fit the Norv Turner mold?

Cincinnati Bengals impending free-agent defensive end Michael Johnson is set to hit the market this offseason and Minnesota could be the likely landing spot.

Johnson, 26, was scheduled to become a free agent last year, but the Bengals applied the franchise tag on him. Failing to lock Johnson up long term last offseason, Cincinnati gave a $40 million contract extension to defensive end Carlos Dunlap.

With big money used on Dunlap, it seems less likely that the Bengals will allocate big money to both ends.

Enter the Vikings.

New Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer happens to be a big fan of his former player. This is what Zimmer had to say about Johnson before landing his gig with the Vikings:

“I have a ton of respect for him,” defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said via Bengals.com. “I remember when he came here he had a lot of things said about him when he came out of college; he wouldn’t finish, he didn’t do this or didn’t do that, but Michael has become a good football player. He’s very conscientious, he plays extremely hard. He’s one of these guys that we’ve build up into what we’re looking for here, the kind of guys that we want, the kind of personalities, the kind of caring about one another in the locker room. I can’t say enough good things about him … hopefully, we’ll get him back. If not, I know that Michael will be successful wherever he goes.”

Well, Minnesota is a very realistic opportunity.

Defensive end Brian Robison was recently locked to a long-term deal, but the Vikings failed to agree to contract extensions with Everson Griffen and Jared Allen. While re-signing Griffen and/or Allen remains to be an option, Johnson is younger and had a lot of success playing under Zimmer.

Johnson posted 11.5 sacks in 2012. That number was down to 3.5 in 2013, but he recorded 56 tackles and, according to Pro Football Focus, is ranked as the No. 4 overall 4-3 end in the NFL.

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