Monday, March 2, 2015
Blog Page 189

I have said many times over the last few months that Percy Harvin is not in the drivers seat when it comes to this game of chicken he is supposedly playing with Minnesota’s front office.

Harvin has one more year on his contract.  Any sort of holdout would almost certainly end 10 weeks into the 2013 season, which would give the Vikings a healthy Harvin heading down the stretch towards the playoffs, and his pay would be decreased with every passing week that he isn’t in uniform.  After that he could, if the Vikings so desired, be retained via the franchise tag for two more years.

Still, the Vikings would surely prefer to sign their talented young receiver to a reasonable long-term contract and put this whole situation to bed.  Dwayne Bowe’s recent contract with the Chiefs, however, could widen the gap between what Harvin think is reasonable and what the team thinks is reasonable.

Bowe signed a five year deal worth up to $56 million, which included a $15 million signing bonus.  The deal includes a total of $26 million and places Bowe into the top three highest paid receivers in the NFL.  Harvin and his agent, however, would almost certainly like to knock Bowe into fourth place very soon.

Harvin has never had a 1,000 yard receiving year, while Bowe has had three, and unlike Bowe he has never caught double-digit touchdowns in a season.  Harvin, however, provides multiple dimensions to his game via taking snaps as a running back and being one of the NFL’s best kick returners.  There is little arguing that both are game changers, but there is also little arguing that Harvin is prone to change a game a hell of a lot faster.

Harvin is four years younger than Bowe, as well, so it is safe to assume that he will be expecting his second contract to be one that pays him in excess of what Bowe is now going to be earning.

Back in December I speculated that Harvin would command a five year deal somewhere in the neighborhood of $55 million, with $25 million in guarantees.

Now, after seeing Bowe’s new deal, I am guessing it is going to have to be somewhere closer to $60 million with $30 million guaranteed.

“Percy Harvin is being traded to the New York Jets in exchange for Darrelle Revis.”

I can just hear those words flowing off the tongues of numerous casual NFL fans at the water cooler tomorrow morning, and I want to tell you why you might be hearing that, despite the fact that it is a very far-fetched idea that has an incredibly low probability of actually happening.

Last year, infamous Twitter personality “Incarcerated Bob” claimed to have inside knowledge that the Vikings were shipping Harvin to the Jets in exchange for a second round pick.  Of course, the trade never happened, and “Bob” later claimed that it was the Jets that foolishly backed out of the deal at the last second.  “Bob” has a very loyal fanbase that swear by his “reports” and therefore a good deal of them have been expecting the Jets to once again, after Harvin made a strong pre-injury case for the MVP award, talk to the Vikings about taking the troubled utility man off their hands.

Now, local Minnesota media like 1500 ESPN and Access Vikings did little to quiet the crowd this season, reloading a boatload of Harvin-being-traded speculative stories time and time again.  Between all of these reports, and a lack of denials from Harvin himself, pretty much everyone seems convinced Harvin has worn a purple jersey for the last time.

Now, nobody likes some good old fashioned speculation more than I do, but Dan Pizzuta of Rant Sports recently connected some dots and wrote an article about the possibility of the Jets sending star cornerback Darrelle Revis and his massive contract demands to Minnesota in exchange for Harvin.  The article makes for some interesting fan fiction, but I promise to post a video on this site of me doing the Harlem Shake in a cheesehead if it actually comes true.

That didn’t stop Evan Bleiee, on opposingviews.comfrom erroneously calling Pizzuta’s speculation article a “report” that “has Revis heading to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for playmaking receiver Percy Harvin” and making it seem like more fact than fiction.

Now that there is a “report” of Revis-to-Minnesota and Harvin-to-Jets out there, however, I can just hear the morning shows citing it like there is something of substance behind it.  After all, these same media types ran specials on Manti Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend without doing enough fact checking to realize she didn’t exist.  They are the same ones that thought it was so special that a female kicker was trying out for the NFL, despite the fact that she wasn’t even a kicker.

So, when you hear that conversation at the water cooler tomorrow morning, you can explain to your co-workers exactly how these things get blown out of proportion.  Tell them why the trade makes no sense.  Promise them it isn’t going to happen.

Offer to do the Harlem Shake while wearing a cheesehead if you are wrong.

What’s the worst that could happen?

[Note:  Want to see a list of every player featured in our “Draft Target” segment?  Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players.  Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]

Sheldon Richardson, Manti Te’o, and Keenan Allen seem to be popular first round picks for the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of mock drafts across the internet.  For those mocks that are now including second rounds, however, one name seems to really be dominating the short list of guys that make sense for the Vikings to target.

That guy is Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter… and for good reason.

At 6′ 4″ and 196 pounds Hunter possesses the prototypical size front offices in need of a #1 receiver, like the Vikings, will be looking for.  He possesses the speed necessary to stretch the field and is capable of out jumping most cornerbacks if it comes to that.  He has shown the ability to make the seemingly impossible grab and also change a game with his quickness and moves after the catch.

Still, there are reasons that a guy of Hunter’s stature isn’t expected to be a first round pick, and they are not to be overlooked.  First and foremost, Hunter has struggled with injury.  After blowing up the college game in 2010, Hunter suffered a 2011 ACL injury in week three that ended his season, and caused Tennessee to spiral downward.  He was able to play for all of 2012, but he never quite looked like his 2010 self and was overshadowed by teammate Cordarrelle Patterson during most games.

It isn’t readily known for certain if Hunter’s problems were a result of his injury still affecting him, or if they were more mental, but I can tell you that I saw the kid drop more passes in 2012 than what I would prefer in a high round pick.  Hunter seems like he might be one of those “moody” receivers that doesn’t have a short memory and may let an early-game mistake bother him for the rest of the day.

I don’t mean to pile on here and make it seem like I don’t like Hunter as a prospect, I do, but I also worry that he isn’t strong and physical enough to be a consistent deep threat.  If you watch his highlight reel you will see a guy blowing by defenders with no mercy, but the other 98% of the game tape will show a receiver that struggles getting off jams and is tentative going across the middle of the field.  This will also need to be addressed at the next level.

Hunter has his risks, but he seems just as capable of shredding a defense as any receiver in this class, and certainly has some major upside.  I think some of his game tape downgrades him to the second round or lower, unlike his teammate Cordarrelle Patterson who I have as a first round target for the Vikings, but he sure seems like a guy that is quickly becoming popular among Vikings fans.

A full quarter of the NFL teams placed their franchise tag on a player by Monday’s deadline and the Vikings were not one of them, as expected.  Their only real candidate for the tag was right tackle Phil Loadholt, but it wasn’t too surprising that the Vikings were not willing to invest nearly $10 million into one year of service from Loadholt.  Instead, they will probably try to negotiate a more financially feasible contract that keeps him in purple for years to come, or move on and begin the search for his replacement.

Two offensive tackles did receive the franchise tag this year, however, as Branden Albert of the Chiefs and Ryan Clady of the Broncos both were too valuable to their respective teams to let them just walk away.  In my free agent rankings for tackles I had Clady at #2 and Albert at #5, with Loadholt between them at #4.  These two are left tackles, however, and being taken off the free market shouldn’t provide Loadholt with too much leverage over the Vikings.

The Chiefs tagging Albert is interesting for two reasons.  First, they were able to pull the trigger on the tag because they reached a last minute agreement with receiver Dwayne Bowe in the form of a five year agreement.  I listed Bowe as my #1 ranked free agent wide receiver, so it is disappointing to see those options begin to dwindle.  Second, keeping Albert in the fold provides an added sense of mystery when it comes to how the Chiefs will use their first overall draft pick.

Defensive tackle is also a major need for the Vikings and two top options were taken away via the franchise tag there, as well.  Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton was my top overall defensive tackle, with Randy Starks of Miami coming in 5th, but now both have been tagged and are essentially unavailable.

Safety Jairus Byrd of the Bills ranked atop his position, as well, but the Bills placing the franchise tag on him means some other interesting options may be available including guard Andy Levitre and cornerback Leodis McKelvin.

Defensive end Michael Johnson of the Bengals, defensive end Anthony Spencer of the Cowboys, and Colts punter Pat McAfee were the remaining three players to be tagged.

 

 

One month ago today the Vikings signed a CFL cornerback and they haven’t made a single roster move since.

Monday, however, the team predictably started the retooling process with their receiver group by cutting veteran Michael Jenkins, according to Adam Schefter.  Jenkins, 30, played two seasons with the Vikings where he accounted for 78 catches, 915 yards, and five scores.

A $2.425 million roster bonus was due to Jenkins this month so the Vikings were forced to decide between cutting him or investing heavily in an aging receiver that has never topped 800 yards in a season.  The decision to part ways with Jenkins provides the Vikings with a cap savings of $3.25 million, putting them at about $17.5 million in space, so it is obvious why they made the decision they did.

The Vikings receiver group was suspect even before Jenkins was cut, but now they are left with a group with more question marks than a suit worn by a Jim Carrey character.  Percy Harvin seems troubled, a Greg Childs return from injury would be unprecedented, and Jerome Simpson and Devin Aromashodu are pending free agents.  If Harvin’s circumstances don’t have him on the field opening weekend, that leaves Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton as the team’s only receivers with notable NFL experience on the roster, and that isn’t saying much.

This is just the latest sign in a long row of them that Rick Spielman and his staff are gearing up to load the receiver depth chart with new faces in an effort to improve Christian Ponder’s 31st ranked passing offense.

If the team finds themselves in a bind down the road, and he is still available, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Jenkins back with a reduced price tag.

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