Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Blog Page 199

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Yesterday, the Vikings signed former Chief Matt Cassel as their backup plan at quarterback.

Today, former Vikings offensive lineman signed a one year deal with Kansas City, according to The Kansas City Star.

Schwartz played well for the Vikings during his one season with the team, occasionally taking some snaps from right guard Brandon Fusco, and has the versatility to play both guard and tackle.  He could end up having some opportunity to prove himself at right tackle or guard with the Chiefs, but all of that hinges on whether or now they use their first overall pick on offensive tackle Luke Joeckle or not.

Once again, for those keeping track at home for the purposes of trying to predict the 2014 compensatory draft pick distribution, the Vikings have seen two of their own free agents sign elsewhere, but have yet to sign one themselves.

Matt Cassel knows he is being brought in not to compete with starting quarterback Christian Ponder, but to be his backup.

“Backup plan” might be a more accurate description for the thinking behind signing the 30 year old quarterback, given Christian Ponder’s sure-to-be short leash as he enters his third season in the NFL.

“They conveyed exactly that,” Cassel said on Thursday, “That Christian obviously had a great year last year, they went 10-6 and that he’s their starting quarterback and that they’re looking to bring somebody in with experience and somebody that will come in and basically be somebody who can step in if need be.”

“The fact of the matter is, again, Christian’s the starting quarterback and I think that we’ll have a great room. I’m there to add value. I’m there to help him out in whatever capacity that is and go from there.”

Contrary to numerous reports that say Cassel signed a one year deal worth $4 million, we believe that Cassel’s deal is actually for two years with an option for him to void it after one.  We also believe his 2013 cap hit will actually be less than $4 million.

I have to say, I am having a hard time thinking of a quarterback that has been (or is) on the open market this offseason that is a better and more accomplished quarterback than Cassel.  An argument could be made that Ryan Fitzpatrick qualifies, but an argument equally as strong could be made that the Vikings went out and got the best available quarterback this year.

After watching our playoff game at Green Bay last season it is hard to criticize anything about this move, even if the money is a tad on the highside for a backup quarterback.

It has been pretty evident that the Vikings were more than willing to move on into the future without linebacker Jasper Brinkley on the roster.  Now, Brinkley has made certain that’ll be the case by moving on himself.

Brinkley visited with the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals as an unrestricted free agent, and on Thursday he chose the Cardinals.

According to PFT, Brinkley signed a two year deal with Arizona, and the Vikings are currently without a middle linebacker.

For those keeping track at home, the Vikings have lost one player (Brinkley) but have not signed any unrestricted free agents that would count against their 2014 compensatory draft pick formula.  Matt Cassel won’t count against the formula because he wasn’t an unrestricted free agent, he was cut.

The Vikings somewhat shored up the safety position by retaining Jamarca Sanford this offseason, but a secondary depth chart that was already thin on talent before the Vikings released Antoine Winfield could use some new talent to try and keep up in a division with three very capable passing games.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports that the Vikings have contacted cornerback Antoine Cason and free safety Gerald Sensabaugh.  Wolfson says the Vikings are simply doing their due diligence and are making lots of calls, so we probably shouldn’t read too much into this news.

Still, it is encouraging to see the Vikings trying to improve the depth chart in the defensive backfield, as it would be mistake to be content with Marcus Sherels and A.J. Jefferson as two of your top options.

We have already established with pretty good detail that Rick Spielman’s decision to release veteran cornerback, and locker room leader, Antoine Winfield was not a popular one when it came to the fan base.

As it turns out, according to NFL Network‘s Ian Rappaport, the move did not sit well with some “Vikings people” within Winter Park either.

One person told Rappaport that “It’s a move backwards” and he says some “aren’t thrilled” with Spielman’s decision.

I feel like I’ve already beat this topic to death, but I would still like to note that as of Thursday afternoon right tackles Sebastian Vollmer and Andre Smith remain unsigned, which is significant because the decision to break their budget for Phil Loadholt was cited as a reason for Winfield’s abrupt departure.  In fact, other decent offensive tackles are currently available such as Jake Long and Eric Winston, not to mention the many options available in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Rick Spielman has a reputation in Minnesota for letting the market establish itself before making hasty, big-money decisions so it was surprising to see him cave to Loadholt’s demands even if the player was threatening to join the division rival Chicago Bears.

However, recent events are making me wonder if Spielman isn’t overvaluing the players he has had a hand in bringing to Minnesota.  The most recent evidence of this is that the Vikings quickly snatched receiver Jerome Simpson to a one year deal worth $2.1 million.  Not only is that a raise from his 2012 salary of $2 million, but Spielman gave Simpson a $500,000 signing bonus, and a $250,000 workout bonus, according to 1500 ESPN.  The Vikings are betting on Simpson staying healthy (he did pass his physical) and producing far more significantly than he did last season.

Simpson’s pay day comes despite the fact that he never produced more than 50 receiving yards in any game last season and has caught the same amount of touchdown passes from Christian Ponder as I have:  zero.

It is not a huge surprise that fans aren’t a fan of Rick Spielman’s approach to free agency, as he is usually going to shy away from the splashy instant gratification moves that fans love to see, but his decision to cut Winfield is putting everything else he does under a microscope and doing the math to see just why exactly his plan had to involve that questionable decision.

And, according to Rappaport’s report, some within Winter Park are looking pretty closely themselves.

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