Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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The Minnesota Vikings have inked their current defensive end Everson Griffen to a new, “huge,” 5-year deal according to Ian Rapaport.


This is obviously enormously good news for Everson Griffen, and I think it should be said good news for the Minnesota Vikings. Despite the fact that the contract might be large, the Vikings may have gotten away with a lot in signing Griffen to a relatively long-term deal, with a high guaranteed salary and an average of $8.5 million.

With this signing, a few dominoes fall, as well. This makes it massively unlikely that the Vikings pursue or sign Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, and also resolves some of the issues with the 2014 NFL draft, pushing defensive end further down the needs chart.

The bigger story is what this means for Griffen, both on and off the field.

Every year that Rick Spielman has been with the Vikings has produced at least one ambitious and exciting move.  Sometimes they have been in the form of player trades (Jared Allen and Percy Harvin), free agent signings (Brett Favre), or Draft Day moving and shaking (Matt Kalil and Cordarrelle Patterson).  Even during the seemingly ho-hum offseasons he has produced at least one splash move that gets the fanbase to collectively giggle with glee.

Today’s cuts, as outlined earlier by Arif, are reportedly going to leave the Vikings with a whopping $41 million in cap space.  Meanwhile, Spielman is still armed with a full compliment of draft picks.

Right now, most Vikings fans seem to think they have Spielman pegged, that he will predictably spend conservatively in free agency and explore all options to move around throughout Draft Weekend.  They think he’ll bargain hunt, perhaps throw his new coach a bone by signing Michael Johnson, and then lean on Norv Turner to pick which quarterback prospect to target in May.

I don’t think it’ll be that predictable.

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Free agency is sneaking up on us and the Vikings have been quiet, as usual, regarding their plans to re-sign their own free agents.  Almost certainly, there will be some of our own guys signing new contracts prior to the March 11th opening of the market, but this is as good of a time as any to participate in some good old fashioned speculation.

I tend to view the NFL Draft as a time to amass talent, with less regard for immediate need than is displayed in the opening days of free agency, so I have narrowed in on five guys that I think could help make an immediate impact on the opening day roster.  Of course, free agency is highly unpredictable and we fans seldom get what we want, but this slow time in the offseason is the perfect time for us dreamers to dream.

The NFL just completed one of its most misunderstood, but widely covered offseason events, the NFL Combine. Sure, the Combine features some of the most talented athletic bodies in the world competing against each other in feats of strength, speed and endurance. But any front office executive that isn’t lying to you will tell you that the most important event at the Combine is the medical evaluation. Or hold on, it’s the interviews. No, no… it’s the illegal tampering and soft free agent bargaining.

My sources tell me all three things are in fact the single most important thing.

At the very least NFL Insiders want to say that the Combine contains many an event that hardly reaches our eyes and rarely reaches our ears. Some of this is just because NFL Insiders see value in being Insiders, and there’s nothing cool about being an Insider unless there’s information they have that you don’t. But most of this is true, which means that it’s inevitable that rumors leak out and speculation runs wild.

Given that nearly everybody has a vested interest in lying to the public when it comes to football (or at the very least, they think they do even when they don’t), a lot of these rumors are bunk. People who are well within the know can be reliable when it comes to how they acquired the knowledge they peddle, but may not be reliable  in terms of how honest they are or what they choose to hold back.

That said, the Combine has produced quite a few rumors that we can speculate on, many of which may impact the Vikings.

The Vikings were without their top two running backs, their most productive offensive lineman this season, and their starting cornerback duo.  As if the odds weren’t stacked enough against them, Minnesota had to play the potent offense of the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, so expectations were minimal as fans filed into the Metrodome.

The Vikings, however, had no-names show up big on their way to a 48-30 beatdown of the Eagles.  Here are ten things I noticed about the game:

1.  NFL Network reported prior to the game that Matt Cassel would remain with the Vikings into 2014.  The understanding is that both Cassel and the Vikings have the option to void the second year of his contract following the season, so I was surprised to see such a concrete report come across the TV.  Cassel then proceeded to have one of the best games of his career.  He finished 26 of 35 for 382 yards and two touchdowns.  He threw one interception and took three sacks, but for the most part he was sharp and poised on his way to a 116.6 quarterback rating.  He also ran for 19 yards and another score.  These are the types of games we just never saw out of Christian Ponder and it is no wonder that Cassel’s future with the franchise suddenly looks far brighter than Ponder’s.  Jennings had never before, in his entire career, caught 11 passes in one game.

2.  Greg Jennings continued to show that he can better reward the Vikings for their investment when Cassel is at the helm.  His best game as a Vikings so far came to the tune of 13 targets, 11 catches, 163 yards, and a touchdown.  Jennings continues to be precise with his route running and the main difference lately seems to be that he now has a quarterback willing and able to take advantage of his talents.

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