Monday, February 8, 2016

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Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman had a long press conference today, and talked (as much as he could) about Adrian Peterson. No matter what he said, it was going to drive speculation. In this case, I don’t think there’s much to be drawn on his press conference that lets us know whether or not the organization is thinking of keeping him or trading him, but that doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting. At the end, it’s worth remembering that Spielman actively attempts to keep his cards close to the vest.

There are a lot of bits and pieces from his presser you’ll hear, but likely the most common one is something that could be seen as a wink and a nudge towards a trade:

“I don’t know if there’s a team in the NFL that wouldn’t want Adrian Peterson on the football team”

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As far as football experience goes, Birk certainly has an impressive resume.

A Midwestern kid from St. Paul, MN, Birk played high school football for Cretin-Derham Hall. He then went on to become an NFL draft pick, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, a Super Bowl champion, and currently works as the NFL Director of Football Development in New York City.

And it all started with the Minnesota Vikings.

Despite having an excellent college career at Harvard University and earning several first-team honors, the center never fully expected to be drafted in 1998. He instead mentally prepared to be a free agent, to simply find an invite to a team’s camp. However, Birk took an opportunity over spring break to work out with the Vikings; the rest, as they say, is history.

“You think, ‘there are 32 teams—what are the chances I’m going to play for my hometown team?’ […] The phone rang, and it was [then-head coach] Denny Green—he said they were going to draft me with the next pick. My name came up on the TV, and it was a tremendously special moment.”

Birk played two seasons as a backup for the Vikings before taking over the starting center position in 2000. In that first year, he started all 16 games and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Birk continues to call 2000 his most memorable season, as the team rebounded from losing some significant players and impressively finished 11-5.

With the exception of missing a season due to injury, Birk cemented himself as an integral part of the Vikings roster for a decade. In addition to Pro Bowl honors, the center was named All-Pro twice and Minnesota Vikings Man of the Year six years in a row.

Despite going on to finish his career with four seasons—and a Super Bowl victory—with the Baltimore Ravens, Birk remains tied to Minnesota. A part of Birk’s spirit will undoubtedly always wear the purple and gold, and he felt incredibly optimistic about the Vikings’ year, calling the 2014 season’s end “tremendous.”

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Welcome back Viking fans. Hopefully you have had a chance to take a look at the first part of this series, handing out the awards for Most Underrated Player and Rookie of the Year.  If not, take a moment to catch up!

Today, I wanted hand two additional awards: Most Improved Player and Play of the Year.

Let’s jump in.

Playoffs?  Playoffs!?!  We don’t need to talk about PLAYOFFS!

Well, I wish we were talking about the playoffs, but… oh well.  Here are some Vikings links for you to consume while the rest of the world is watching eight other teams:


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Already thinking about 2015 free agency? Take a look at the Vikings top 10 salary cap hits and dead money tied to them.

Earlier this week I found this via twitter and Shane Richardson.

I thought it did a nice job of providing a clean look at where the Vikings top money was headed for next year.

For months, there has been talk about Vikings potentially asking guys like Greg Jennings, Chad Greenway and Adrian Peterson to restructure their contracts.  You can now see why and how much money is tied up in their roster spots.

With Greenway growing older, he looks to be the most likely cap casualty, unless he’s willing to take a reduced deal for a final year in purple.

Peterson is also an obvious candidate for contract reworking, noting his age and off the field circumstances. Additionally, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s emergence as potential offensive leader within the organization, gives the Vikings further leverage.

Peterson’s willingness to remain in Minnesota does depend on the amount of money the Vikings are opting to pay him.  A $15.4M salary cap hit is not something I’m sure the Vikings are taking lightly and with only $2.4M in dead money, cutting Peterson carries limited financial risk for the Vikings.

Jennings does command a larger cap hit, and arguments can be made about his ability to fulfill those expectations, but his dead money number isn’t exactly small and his seemingly growing chemistry with Bridgewater doesn’t give the Vikings many options.

There has been a lot of clamoring for the Vikings to add Larry Fitzgerald during the off season, but I don’t see that happening with the money due to Jennings, and their similar age and current talent level.

With the below par season defensive end Brian Robison had, he looks to be a restructuring candidate as well, but his contract is much more team friendly at this point when compared to those mentioned above.

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Top 10 Vikings Cap Hits, Dead Money & PFF scores for each.

The Vikings are in a very favorable position in terms of cap room, draft position and current roster talent. Although there are obvious holes to be filled, with another strong draft and productive free agency period, the Vikings could be on the up and up in all areas. My hope is that the Vikings take advantage of this and become somewhat aggressive at continuing to improve.

After taking a look, Vikings fans, who would be your top restructuring priorities in order to make the most out of free agency?

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