Friday, December 9, 2016

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Spielman's best and worst moves
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

(Note: This is a two-part series. The second part focuses on Spielman’s worst moves. For part one, an analysis of the best moves, click here.)

I came into this exercise fairly objectively—while I’ve always been a fan of Spielman overall, I don’t think his work has been infallible. Just before this year’s draft I had a quick online discussion with The Sportive Podcast’s “Clarence Swamptown”—one of Minnesota’s foremost Spielman detractors (at least on Twitter)—and he made some good observations of where the Vikings GM has gone wrong. The conversation gave me some perspective and helped balance the voice of a fanbase that can be overwhelmingly pro-Spielman at times. I will say, though, in the end, I found this two-part series weighted more heavily in favor of the “Best Moves” half. Spielman’s list of worst moves, at least for me, was thinner and more difficult to scrounge together; there were far less blatant failures than there were slam dunks. Perhaps that’s the nature of personnel in the NFL—for example, if you draft a player in the first round, that probably means he’s talented and has a good shot to succeed, so hitting on first-rounders should be the norm, not the exception. Regardless, as you’ll read in the descriptions below, I struggled with this list.

I imagine Swamptown would respond with something to this effect: Spielman’s biggest failures are consistent, smaller whiffs, rather than grandiose, headline grabbing ones (please correct me if I’m wrong, Clarence). And that type of failure—ill-fated mid-round picks, smaller name free agents that didn’t work out, etc.—is probably as important in contributing to a team’s success as the big splashes. It just doesn’t translate as well to a list like this.

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Vikings Make Harrison Smith NFL's Highest Paid Safety
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Harrison Smith’s patience was finally rewarded; the Minnesota Vikings made their star defender the NFL’s highest paid safety, inking Smith to a five-year, $51.25 million contract extension. According to the team’s official website, the move was an offseason goal for general manager Rick Spielman, who has a history of retaining key draft picks.

Shortly after the announcement, the media took to Twitter to release Smith’s contract details, and the numbers were impressive. Over the next three years, Smith will make an average of $10.75 million, putting him ahead of Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas ($10 million per year).

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com was the first to break down Smith’s guaranteed money, which includes a full guarantee of $15.278 million and $28.578 million in total guarantees. The deal keeps Minnesota’s dynamic, dual-threat safety in Purple and Gold through the 2021 season.

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Looking back on 10 years of Rick Spielman

Spielman's best and worst moves
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

(Note: This is a two-part series. The first part focuses on Spielman’s best moves. Part two, an analysis of the worst moves, will be posted tomorrow.)

Earlier this week marked the 10-year anniversary of Rick Spielman joining the Minnesota Vikings. Spielman’s job has evolved over time—he was initially hired as the Vice President of Player Personnel in 2006, replacing the short-tenured Fran Foley in the Vikings’ “Triangle of Authority,” and in 2012 was promoted to General Manager and has acted as the single voice for all football matters since then. Ten years is more than enough time to make your mark on a franchise, so we (okay, technically it was Brett’s idea) thought it would be good to look back on some of Spielman’s best an worst moves at the helm.

Since he didn’t assume full control until 2012, attributing transactions prior to that year directly to Spielman is a cloudy proposition; indeed, it was exceedingly difficult to pin down who exactly in that infamous triangle was calling the shots from 2006-2012. But we can rely on educated guesses to navigate those years, and the assumption is that most football personnel moves have had Spielman’s fingerprints on them since he arrived in town. If conventional wisdom indicates a particular decision was made outside of his control, I’ll note that and categorize accordingly.

Our first installment of this two-part series looks back at Rick Spielman’s best moves.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The 2015 NFL season ended more than three months ago, yet it seems like it has been forever since an football game has been played. With the league’s release of the official dates and times for the 2016 NFL preseason today, a bit of excitement was felt by those who have clamoring for any sort of televised professional football that is not played in Canada or in an arena.

For the Minnesota Vikings, the actual opponents for which they will be facing in the upcoming preseason has been known for some time. Now, the Vikings and every other team in the league knows the exact times in which those games will be kicking off.

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More Than Words MZF 16 Header 2

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Dear Fellow Vikings Fans,

From the day I started writing about the Minnesota Vikings I often field the question “why do you spend your time on that?” It was an answer that was hard to find, to be honest. I’m lucky enough to have a demanding career that has nothing to do with this website, I’m a lucky husband, and I’m a father of three beautiful children… Time is precious for me and there is only so much of it.

So… why do I do it?

I’m not sure that I have yet to find a comprehensive answer to that yet, to be perfectly honest. I enjoy the bond I share with many of our readers, particularly the”old gang” that has been here since the start. I love that I’ve surrounded myself with enough incredibly talented (and awesome) teammates that this thing continues to reach new successes. And, of course, I love my Minnesota Vikings and really look forward to the day when Vikings Territory gets to publish that article that is celebrating their first Super Bowl victory.

All of that stuff combined makes every day running this site an absolute honor, but my favorite time of each year (a close second to the NFL Draft) is when we try to use our little corner of the internet to do a bit of good.

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