Sunday, February 1, 2015
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fred evans

When the 2014 season concludes there will certainly be those that point critical fingers at things that happened this month.  Nobody, however, will be able to accuse the Vikings and Rick Spielman of ignoring the defensive tackle position.

After signing Linval Joseph and bringing Henry Melton in for a visit, the Vikings agreed to terms that will bring nose tackle Fred Evans back for his eighth straight season in Minnesota.  At 30 years old, Evans is coming off two of his best NFL seasons, and seems like a nice security measure signing to fortify the nose tackle position.

The deal he signed is of the one-year variety, although financial terms have not yet been revealed.  Last year, Evans had a base salary of about $1.5 million, and it seems likely that this year’s wages will be in the same neighborhood if not a tad cheaper.

As long as Evans keeps his cabbies happy, I don’t suspect this will be any sort of disaster, and just might end up looking like a very smart move if the injury bug happens to bite this defensive line in 2014.

Adam’s Grade:  C

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Matt Cassel is starting, some players are hurt, everything is correctable, the Wilfs are rich… yadda, yadda, yadda.  A lack of wins means a lack of interest in the same old storylines and the 2013 Vikings are certainly lacking wins.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune‘s gossip department, or “the dish” as they prefer to call it, saw a Vikings player pass across their pages on Wednesday.

The author’s TMZ-style account of an incident involving defensive tackle Fred Evans can be read in full right here.  I warn you, however, the column is not journalism-quality and comes with plenty of assumptions and judgement.  Here is the Sparknotes version of what happened:

  • A cab driver gave a man, another man, and an assumed stripper a ride from a strip club to a hotel the morning of December 2nd (after the Vikings beat the Bears on December 1st).
  • The cabbie heard the first man talking about the game and the woman referred to him as “Fred” on a number of occasions.
  • “Fred” and the woman were quite friendly with one another during the ride, according to the cabbie.
  • When they arrived at the hotel the cabbie was not paid for the ride and he waited for some time.
  • The cabbie called the hotel room multiple times.  On one occasion “Fred” hung up on him.  On another, “Fred” told him to hold on a second, but nobody came to pay him.
  • At 4:04 a.m. the cabbie called the police, but he did not want to go through the court system for the $65 tab.
  • Police brought a photo lineup to the cabbie and he was able to pick the real Fred Evans out of the bunch.
  • The cabbie was able to contact the Vikings who then gave him the contact number of “the manager.”
  • He called the manager and, while it took a couple of days, he was paid a total of $240.
  • The cabbie is now happy.

Evans has been having one of the better year’s of his career with the Vikings, after Rick Spielman continued to give him chances, but an incident in a taxi cab ended his career with the Dolphins back in 2007 and you would think he’d have learned his lesson about these things.

The Vikings, having dealt with a recent rash of off-field incidents, can’t be happy to hear that another player is grabbing headlines for the wrong reasons, visiting strip clubs until the next morning, having the police called on him, and having to get “The Manager” involved.

At the very least, they can’t be too happy that we all know about it now.

Kyle Rudolph at Cowboys 11/3/13
Photo provided courtesy of Vikings.com

The hits just keep on coming. Kyle Rudolph, who was injured on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Christian Ponder in the third quarter of yesterday’s game against the Cowboys, could be out for a month with a fractured foot.

“I think the guy just fell on his foot when he was tackling him,” Frazier said. “It’s a very significant injury for him and for our team. That gives some other guys a chance to step up. Chase Ford, who played in the ballgame and did a good job for us, he’ll play. John Carlson will get more reps now.”

Though the amount Rudolph has been utilized this season has left something to be desired amongst many Vikings fans hoping for a big year, the loss of one of Ponder’s favorite redzone targets still hurts. As Frazier stated above, this will mean that John Carlson, the Vikings $25 million back-up tight end, will get more playing time.

Phil Loadholt, who suffered a concussion Sunday, did not practice today.

Other Vikings players who did not practice and are now dealing with injuries include: Fred Evans, Jamarca Sanford, Xavier Rhodes, Letroy Guion, Rhett Ellison and Charlie Johnson.

 

The Vikings avoided taking a hit to their depth at defensive tackle this offseason by renegotiating the contract of veteran Kevin Williams.  Additionally, they bolstered the position for this season, and into the future, by spending one of their first round picks on Florida standout Sharrif Floyd.

The also spent a late pick on Florida State tackle Everett Dawkins in an effort to proactively ease the inevitable transition the front four will see very soon.  Dawkins may have an uphill battle to make the roster, but it is obvious the Vikings are preparing to move on from at least some of their current veterans, such as Williams.

While nose tackle Letroy Guion had a disappointing first year a starter, veteran Fred Evans showed up big on a number of key plays last season, and they should continue to compete for each other’s playing time.  Fourth year player Christian Ballard has been largely mediocre throughout his career so far, but even he has shown some flashes that provide some intrigue heading into 2013.

Second year player Chase Baker, along with undrafted rookie Anthony McCloud, round out the competition for spots on the bottom of the depth chart.

Age and injuries seem to be catching up with Williams, as he hasn’t played at an all-pro level for a few years now, but he can still get the job done and the hope is that being fully health will actually result in some improved play.  It can’t hurt that he is now in the final year of his contract with the Vikings and has publicly stated his intention to play beyond 2013.  He will almost certainly go into the season as a starter, albeit rotated out of the lineup more often than we are used to seeing, but his presence will likely prove to be quite valuable as the season wears on.

Optimists would tell you that the Vikings are stacked at the defensive tackle position, so much so that some surprising names might be on their list of final cuts, and that it is very difficult to predict who will start next to Kevin Williams this season.

Skeptics, on the other hand, may have a bit of a different outlook on the situation.  They may look at the positional depth chart and say the Vikings have a whole lot of question marks with no sure-fire answers.  An aging veteran forced to take a pay cut in Williams.  A first round selection that might look promising, but is still a mere rookie, in Sharrif Floyd.  An underperforming nose tackle Letroy Guion.  An unproven and inexperienced player in Christian Ballard.  A late round rookie in Everett Dawkins.  The quantity is undoubtedly there, but no we must wait to see if quality emerges from the pack.

One name that should not be dismissed as a possible starter on day one is veteran Fred Evans.

“The coaches keep telling me that, hey, we need to give Fred a shot to compete for the No. 1 job,” Leslie Frazier told 1500 ESPN on Sunday.

The reason that Evans is suddenly getting serious attention, after six seasons with the team, are a direct result of how much better he looked than Guion down the stretch last season despite playing fewer snaps.  What really separates him was his ability to come up with a pair of big plays that included a crucial sack against Houston and a big-time third down stop against Green Bay.

“Based on (what Evans) did coming down the stretch — he played some lights-out football for us,” Frazier said. “He really stepped up. And we’ve been harping on that with him, his consistency, and he showed that late in the season. So, we’ll see. We’ll just see if he can continue to elevate his play, and if he does, he’ll be in line for more snaps with the first unit.”

Frazier says “more snaps” with the first team because that is the role Evans played when the Vikings opened up OTAs last week.  That is a pretty good sign for a player that has never been much more than a rotational guy in his seven NFL seasons.  The previously mentioned depth at the position means Evans, and the rest of the defensive tackles, is still sure to be a part of a rotation this season, but becoming a starter would be a huge step forward for the 29 year old Evans.

If he does become a starter, then the Vikings will be facing even more drama next offseason, as he joins the rest of the starting line as a 2014 free agent.  Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, Lawrence Jackson, and George Johnson are all entering contract years in 2013 along with Evans.

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