Friday, February 27, 2015
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dwayne bowe

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.

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.

 

 

[NOTE:  Click the links to see our free agency rankings for quarterbacksrunning backsfullbacks,tight ends, centers, guards, and offensive tackles.  We’ll continue our way through all of the positions this week.]

The media is currently in the middle of regurgitating old Percy Harvin storylines, but the truth is that nobody has any idea how that whole situation is going to shake out.  What we do know is that the Vikings need to arm their offense with pass catching weapons, and losing a guy like Harvin would be one huge step backwards, which is not a direction they can really afford to go in.

The Vikings need so much help at receiver, in fact, I would consider almost every option to be viable and would fully expect to see some fireworks during free agency.  Here are some of the options:

Top Tier

1.  Dwayne Bowe, KC

There is no doubt that Bowe’s career has been plagued by inconsistencies and a knucklehead attitude.  With that being said, the guy is very talented and has produced at a high level despite poor quarterbacks filtering through Kansas City over the years, and that offense misses him greatly when he isn’t there.  He would immediately provide some legitimacy to the Vikings offense.

The NFL extended the NFL trade deadline to Thursday due to Hurricane Sandy shutting down the league offices, so we got a bonus two days of speculation that will almost certainly end up being anticlimactic.

Leslie Frazier somewhat fueled the fire on Wednesday, however, when he was asked about the open roster spot resulting from Chris Cook’s injury status.

“Without giving too much away, the trade deadline is Thursday, so you want to do everything you can,” Frazier said. “I know Rick (Spielman) and our personnel department is doing everything we can to improve our team and help our team be better. You want to exhaust all avenues in doing that.”

It is suspicious that the Vikings have yet to fill Cook’s spot but it is unlikely that the Vikings make any major moves on Thursday.  Still, speculation is fun, so let’s do some of that:

Michael Vick:  Some have brought this idea up.  I won’t.

Tim Tebow:  See: “Michael Vick.”

Steve SmithPro Football Talk started this one off by suggesting the Panthers receiver could be an answer to the Vikings passing woes.  I don’t buy it.  Tell me where an aging receiver with questionable leadership abilities fits into a rebuilding roster.

Dwayne Bowe:  The player makes great sense.  The draft pick compensation and subsequent contract extension probably wouldn’t.

Ramses Barden:  This one is an Adam Warwas special.  Tremendous potential (with low mileage) that has been stuck behind Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Victor Cruz in recent years.  At 6’ 6” and 224 pounds, Barden could possibly be pried away from a Giants team that seems to view him as more of a luxury than a necessity and lend the Vikings deep game a helping hand.

Toby Gerhart:  Sell?  That’s right, I said it.  The Vikings have gradually been taking more and more of the load away from Gerhart and there are a number of teams hungry for running backs right now.  The market is flooded with aging and expensive veteran backs, so perhaps Gerhart would represent a more attractive option to certain teams.

Okay, what off-the-wall speculation do you guys have for me?  Only a few more hours to throw something out there!

What is that you say? There wasn’t enough coverage of the Vikings here on VT alone? Well, we have just the thing for everyone out there who just can’t get enough purple – our favorite links of the week:

ESPN 1500 Week 7, 2012 Game Poster
The image above was created by the good folks at ESPN 1500.

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