Thursday, January 29, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "jamarca sanford"

jamarca sanford

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The NFL is allowing a three day window in which team’s can legally tamper with pending free agency prior to free agency officially beginning.  That means very late on Friday all phone lines will be open, rumors will be flying, text message services will be working overtime, and tentative deals will be struck.

That is why it is interesting to point out that the Vikings have done incredibly little this offseason so far.  Since the season ended they have added one player, CFL cornerback Rod Williams, and released veteran receiver Michael Jenkins.

That’t it.

Tomorrow night the agents for all 14 pending free agents are free to talk to other teams.  This includes right tackle Phil Loadholt, Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton, and safety Jamarca Sanford.  They haven’t tendered any of their restricted free agents like some teams have done.  They also haven’t restructured any veteran contracts like so many teams have done over the last few weeks.

Minnesota has always seemed to frustrate fans by waiting until the last minute to show their cards, which is the smart thing to do, but they are allowing some fairly important items on their to-do list wait until the last minute.  It is safe to assume that there is a plan in place, but I just can’t help but wonder just how much risk is built into this plan when it comes to retaining their own players.

For everyone’s sake, I hope the Vikings make the transaction report on Friday, and show a sign of life in an offseason where they have done little other than play possum.

The deadline for teams to place their franchise tag on a pending free agent is Monday at 4:00 p.m. and only five tags have been placed so far.

The Vikings are not expected to use their tag this offseason despite Phil Loadholt, Jamarca Sanford, and Jerome Felton all currently unsigned.  Felton would be way overpaid because there is no difference between a fullback and running back as far as the franchise tag is concerned, while Sanford has yet to prove himself as being anywhere close to worthy of the tag.

Loadholt is not somebody the Vikings would want to lose easily, but he also isn’t likely to see them hand over $9.8 million for one year of service, particularly with so many other right tackle possibilities available via free agency and the Draft.

What will be of interest to the Vikings tomorrow, however, is keeping track of who gets tagged and who doesn’t.  They may have to cross some potential free agency targets off their list, but it will also provide some clarity as to which players are likely to hit the open market.

For instance, the Buffalo Bills already placed their tag on playmaking safety Jairus Byrd, but that means guard Andy Levitre is soon going to be allowed to sign with another team.  Defensive end Michael Johnson of the Bengals was franchised and so right tackle Andre Smith could also be available.

The other three players to be tagged so far are punter Pat McAfee of the Colts, left tackle Ryan Clady of the Broncos, and defensive tackle Henry Melton of the Bears.

We’ll keep an eye on Monday’s action all day long and be sure to update you on how, if at all, the Vikings might be impacted by all of this.

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

The Vikings operated under the whole “safeties don’t really have a huge impact in our defensive scheme” mentality for a long time, but Harrison Smith blew the lid off that theory in his rookie year.  Seeing what Smith could do has Vikings fans salivating for another top notch safety to play next to him.

Mistral Raymond and Robert Blanton would provide some decent depth at the position if the Vikings decided to bring in a new starting safety, and it is still possible that they could re-sign Jamarca Sanford to compete and provide added depth.

Here is who might be available next month:

Top Tier

I really only put one player in this category, and that player is Jairus Byrd from the Bills, who might hit the open market with the Bills having a lot of offseason issues to attend to.  Of all the free agents in all of the positions, Byrd has to be in my top three favorite targets for Minnesota.  With decent run support skills, some of the best coverage skills in the league, and a nose for the football it is no wonder that Byrd grades out as an elite safety in this league.

The first step in the Vikings offseason will have to be to look at themselves, as a front office and as a coaching staff, to see if any major changes are needed.  Considering the surprising success of this season, coupled with an apparent lack of interest in our coaches from teams with vacancies, I would venture a guess at this point that nothing major is coming.

So, assuming our schemes stay relatively close to what we saw in 2012, I have decided to list and rank the Vikings pending free agents.  As I usually do, I have taken a “world view” approach to ranking these players which means talent is only one of the factors taken into consideration.  Age, projected cost, injury history, and other factors have also played into these rankings.

So, without further ado, here are how I rank the Vikings 2013 free agents from best to worst:

Jamarca Sanford, S:  Yes, I have listed a part time player in the top spot.  No, I am not crazy… I don’t think.  The Vikings secondary made huge strides this season and I just feel like they cannot afford to take a step backwards, and there are no guarantees they will be able to take a step forwards as options are limited and they have bigger fish to fry.  If they do get their hands on a starter that is superior to Sanford or Mistral Raymond then great, Sanford is a fine special teamer that shouldn’t cost a ton to retain.  He plays the run very well, flying around the field, and has a knack for causing fumbles.  He is a liability in coverage, and can’t seem to catch a football to save his life, but there is no reason the Vikings shouldn’t keep him around to ensure, at the very least, that some depth is maintained at the safety position.

Jerome Felton, FB:  Wild card weekend was proof, in each game played, that the fullback position is not dead at all.  Felton proved this all season long, however, as he paved the way for Adrian Peterson’s incredible season.  Rick Spielman reportedly told Felton that the team wanted him back, but money could be a sticking point, especially since the Vikings have a decent backup option in Rhett Ellison.  Ellison’s presence, other free agent options, and Felton’s DWI charges from last offseason are the only reasons he doesn’t sit atop this list.

Phil Loadholt, RT:  On most lists you will probably find Loadholt listed as the top free agent that the Vikings have pending.  This was certainly his best pro season in a number of ways.  In fact, it has been reported that the front office approached Loadholt about an extension in the middle of this last season.  I worry about a player, however, that seems to play much harder during his contract year.  Also, the fact that no mid-season extension was agreed upon suggests to me that Loadholt is hoping to get more money than the Vikings are willing to shell out.  Lastly, there are a number of very good tackles set to become free agents this offseason, so if the Vikings are going to back up the money truck then perhaps they should be looking to do so for a player that demonstrates more consistency.  In the end, however, Loadholt is worth a decent (but reasonable) contract and the Vikings will give serious thought to getting a deal hammered out in the coming months.

Inactive for the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday are:

S Mistral Raymond, QB MacLeod Bethel-Thompson, WR Jarius Wright, CB Brandon Burton, LB Audie Cole, OL Mark Asper, and DE D’Aundre Reed.

Raymond being inactive means that the Vikings get to wait at least four more days before deciding if Raymond or Jamarca Sanford will be the starting safety once both are healthy.  Wright remains inactive, which has been somewhat of a mystery this season.

Otherwise, the Vikings are a pretty healthy football team which could be a key for not only this game, but in trying to accomplish a four day turnaround for next week’s matchup.

NOTE:  Sorry guys and gals, we will once again be skipping out on the live chat for this week.  We’ll aim to be live on Thursday night, however.

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