Thursday, December 14, 2017

geoff schwartz

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There is plenty of action regarding the Vikings new cycle in recent days, and we’re keeping up with it all, but my love for weekly schedules dictates that now is the time to take a look around the NFC North to see what our biggest enemies are up to.

Packers First Round Pick Falling Behind

The Green Bay Packers used the 27th overall pick to select UCLA defensive lineman Kenny Clark earlier this year. Since then, circumstances have prevented him from getting fully caught up on the rigors of life in the NFL.

First, the NFL rule preventing draft picks from attending team activities while school is still in session prevented Clark from reporting to Green Bay’s offseason program in June. He attempted to utilize technology such as Skype, according to ESPN‘s Rob Demovsky, to keep up with what his coaches wanted him to know.

Then came the back injury.

Many of the national outlets reported last week that the Vikings signed backup quarterback Matt Cassel to a one year deal, which caused some confusion in these parts because we were saying it was a two year deal with an option.

With details of the contract now available, allow us to clarify the matter.

The deal is, in fact, for two years and carries a maximum value of $7.4 million.  In 2013 Cassel can earn a base salary of $1.65 million, already got a $2 million roster bonus, can make up to $500,000 in “not likely to be earned” incentives, and also has a $50,000 workout bonus.  That is a grand total of $3.7 million for this coming season.

Next year, the same incentives and workout bonus exist, and his base salary increases to $3.15 million.  The hitch is that there is a $500,000 roster bonus owed on the seventh day of the 2014 league year, at which time both the player and the team will have a decision to make.

Both sides have an option available to them that negates the second year of the contract.  So, basically, if Cassel feels he outperformed his 2014 compensation he can bail.  If the Vikings feel like he under-performed and don’t want to pay him then they can bail.  If Cassel performs just about right for that pay scale, then perhaps the second year of the deal will actually happen, but it seems somewhat unlikely which probably explains why so many were reporting it as a one year deal.

Cassel’s cap number is $3.7 million during both years of the deal.  The Vikings were thought to have over $5 million in cap space Tuesday morning, but they signed guard Seth Olsen on Tuesday, so the cap is still fluid.

Olsen played for the Vikings practice squad in 2010, and stuck to the roster for a little while in 2011, but ended up playing for the Colts these last two years.  Olsen made five starts in Indianapolis and figures to be a possible replacement for Geoff Schwartz, as he can play guard and tackle if need be.

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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.

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

With neither Charlie Johnson or Brandon Fusco leaving an overly great impression as starters last season, the Vikings would be foolish to not explore options that might exist to upgrade either the left or right side of the offensive line.

Or both.

In fact, after pouring through offensive free agent rankings that are unlikely to be real relevant to the Vikings, we have finally found a position that could be of interest.  The Vikings could obviously do better than what they have and this group of free agents has some really solid options to consider.

Johnson and Fusco are still under contract next season, and the Vikings gave Troy Kropog a raise to keep him on their roster and will be a restricted free agent, but none of these guys are above being unseated.

Top Tier

1.  Andy Levitre, BUF

Poor Bills.  They just never seem to get any better, and this year they stand to lose some serious young talent to free agency.  With only one franchise tag at their disposal, it seems highly unlikely that both Levitre and safety Jairus Byrd stay put.  If Levitre hits the market he will command some big money, but that shouldn’t deter the Vikings from giving his agent a call to set up a visit.

2.  Louis Vasquez, SD

Unlike Levitre, I don’t really see Vasquez making it to the free agent market.  The Chargers are still wincing as a result of letting Vincent Jackson get away, and they can’t afford any more downgrades on offense.  At only 26 years old, the Chargers need to be willing to pay the man, because plenty others won’t hesitate.

1. Schwartz Sports Hernia

Joe Oberle of CBS Sports reported yesterday that Geoff Schwartz suffered an abdominal injury Friday at practice. Schwartz was sent back to the Twin Cities to have some tests done. The tests came back showing Schwartz has a sports hernia surgery. He is set to undergo surgery and will likely be out of the action 4-6 weeks. Geoff Schwartz, in my opinion, was one of the better signings of the offseason and the right guard position was shaping up to be a well fought for spot on the roster. Now, it is likely Schwartz competition for the spot, Brandon Fusco, will get the nod to start.

2. Vikings Sign New Guard

Apparently, the Vikings offensive line is in worst shape than I thought. According to this article at Star Tribune, the Vikings are dealing with several injuries up front – Pat Brown (knee), Kevin Murphy (heat-related illness), DeMarcus Love (shoulder) and Geoff Schwartz (see above).

As a result of these injuries, the Vikings have signed some help for the line – Grant Cook, a rookie from Arkansas. The Vikings let undrafted rookie defensive end Eric Latimore to make room for Cook on the roster. Cook originally signed with the Packers as an undrafted rookie but was released by Green Bay late last month.

Cook should feel a little more at home with two fellow rookie Razorback alums on the Vikings roster – wide receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs.

3. Josh Robinson Returns

The fastest man in this year’s draft class, Josh Robinson, returned to practice after pulling his hamstring while trying to cover rookie wide receiver Jarius Wright the first day of training camp. Robinson wasn’t heavily involved in practice and instead just ran some individual drills. But still, the fact that he’s back on the field is a good sign.

4. Alan William’s Plans For The Defense And Jared Allen’s Disapproval

New Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams said in a press conference that he plans to use a “hockey-style philosophy with his defensive line.” In other words, he wants to frequently swap players on the defensive line out to always have a fresh front four. As you can probably imagine, Jared Allen (you know, the guy that played 99.9% of snaps last season) wasn’t ecstatic about the news. Allen told reporters that he had heard nothing about this new defensive scheme and that if it was actually implemented, he would fight it to remain on the field as much as possible. What did Leslie Frazier have to say?

“Believe me, we’ve talked about this a number of times. So contrary to what Mr. Allen had to say, we’ve talked about this subject. We’re going to try to keep our guys fresh. We want him fresh. He knows. We talked about it even this morning. We always go into it every season talking about we’re going to try to cut his reps down. And then lo-and-behold, it doesn’t always work that way … We’re going to play him but we are going to try to get him off the field when we can and make sure he’s fresh in those key moments. It does a disservice to him and our team if we play him every snap. And then when we need him in key situations, he’s fatigued. That’s just not smart. We’re going to try to manage that. We did a pretty good job of it at times a season ago. We need to do more of it and we’re going to make a concerted effort to try to get him off the field at times. Without hurting the team. We don’t want to hurt the team. He’s our best pass rusher, one of the best in the NFL.”

5. Greg Childs Impresses and His Injury

Let’s start off with the good news first: Rookie wide receiver Greg Childs has looked pretty good so far during training camp. He’s made a number of really good grabs and looked like he could potentially see some playing time in four or five-wide sets this season. Childs even had a really great highlight grab the other day in practice (check out the video below).

And now, for the bad news. Unfortunately, that may be the last highlight we see from Childs for a while as last night he tore the patellar tendon in both knees during a scrimmage. Yes, you read that correctly – both knees. The Vikings released the following statement: “Greg Childs suffered a torn patellar tendon on his right and left knees last night. He is expected to have them surgically repaired within the next few days.”

It is likely Childs will miss the entire season.

6. Kyle Rudolph. Best Tight End In The NFC North?

Kyle Rudolph continues to gather steam as training camp continues. It is obvious him and Christian Ponder have developed a great chemistry. That coupled with the fact that he has all the physical skills to be special and because he’s on an offense that plans on heavily relying on tight ends could mean a break out year for the sophomore tight end. His performance in training camp already has Kevin Seifert from asking if Kyle Rudolph could be “as good as any player at his position in the NFC North.”

 7.  Guys Off To Great Starts

Mike Wobschall (also known as Wobby) has done a great job covering training camp this year. In this post on the blog, Wobby lists 10 Vikings players who are off to a great start. Who made the list? Some of the more surprising names are CB Bobby Felder, DT Letroy Guion, TE Rhett Ellison and RB Derrick Coleman. Kyle Rudolph, Matt Kalil, Antoine Winfield, Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson, Chad Greenway and Rick Spielman (?) also make the list.  Head over to to check it out and see Wobby’s reasoning.

8. Doleman In Canton

Chris Doleman was inducted into the Hall of Fame last night. The Vikings Age has a good summary of Doleman’s career that you might like to check out. You can also head over to if you’d like to see video of Doleman’s induction speech.

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