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Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Kyle Rudolph, Blair Walsh, Jared Allen, Chad Greenway, and Matt Kalil are all playing in a football game tonight.

Sure, the Pro Bowl means about as much as an rerun of The Office, but with seven Vikings seeing televised action for the last time between now and the preseason it is hard not to watch and cheer.

We’ll be watching live and if you are too, then feel free to discuss the “action” right here below this post.

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Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Kyle Rudolph, Blair Walsh, Jared Allen, Chad Greenway, and now Matt Kalil.

Those are the guys that will represent Minnesota during Sunday’s Pro Bowl.

Due to a mysterious fight that resulted in Washington left tackle Trent Williams having to get stitches, Kalil has been selected to replace Williams in the NFC’s lineup for the scrimmage.

The fact that the Vikings have seven guys playing in the Pro Bowl, and that two of them are rookies, is a very encouraging sign for the future of this young playoff team.

There will be plenty of discussion starting very soon about how the Vikings can attract, afford, and accumulate more talent throughout their roster.  First, let us take a look at how well armed the Vikings are in their quest to improve upon 2012.

First, Tom Pelissero writes that the Vikings should begin this offseason with about $12.3 million in cap space, a number that is above average for NFL teams.  These projections include deductions for earned incentives for players such as Antoine Winfield, as well as a bump stemming from cap violation penalties placed on the Redskins and Cowboys.

The team will probably want to start spending that cap space by retaining some of their 14 free agents, each of which are discussed here, before considering just who they might target when free agency opens up.

They may also increase their cap space depending on how they decide to proceed with veterans such as defensive tackle Kevin Williams, defensive end Jared Allen, cornerback Antoine Winfield, tight end John Carlson, and wide receiver Percy Harvin.

The Vikings are also armed with eight picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.  They have no picks in the sixth round, but two in both the fourth and seventh rounds.  Each of the other rounds, they have one pick in each.  While the official Draft order has yet to be released, the Vikings appear to be solidified as having the 23rd pick in the first round.  That is, of course, a full 20 spots lower than where they sat when Draft Day rolled around in 2012.

With plenty of cap space and Draft picks, this should be an exciting offseason to pay attention to, as Rick Spielman has plenty of fire power to keep building this team into one that can win a championship.

I can’t believe that we are this far away from the annual snooze fest that is the NFL’s Pro Bowl and that we already have four fun storylines to chat about.  The Vikings have four Pro Bowl players (at least) and each is in a unique situation.

ADRIAN PETERSON

Everyone’s favorite running back, Adrian Peterson, has been selected to his fifth Pro Bowl and gives us all a reason to watch.  Despite the risks associated with Peterson doing anything other than spending the offseason in a deep freeze like Han Solo, Peterson always plays at a high level in the annual skirmish.

This year, almost certainly to the dismay of any AFC defenders, Peterson vows to do now different.

“I’m going to play hard,” warned Peterson. “It is hard for me to play down because when you play down, you put yourself in jeopardy of getting hurt going through the motions. So I won’t be playing down.”

With how Peterson has played this season, coupled with the lackadaisical nature of this game, would anyone be surprised to see Peterson break 300 yards?  400?

500?

Peterson plans on having his abdomen, which had been bugging him near the end of this season, examined a little closer following the Pro Bowl.

JARED ALLEN

Some would argue that Jared Allen, who has been plagued by injury more than ever, was really only voted into the Pro Bowl based off of his name value and not his 2012 production.  That might be partially true, but he still played pretty darn good football this season.

Allen, who played with a torn labrum this season, plans to wait until after the Pro Bowl to have surgery on it, which will be the first surgery he has had during his football career.  Allen related making the Pro Bowl and not going to going to an ice cream shop and not getting to try any.

“I played the whole year,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy the Pro Bowl. I figure I’ll at least get some warm weather and a pseudo-free vacation.”

Unlike Peterson, however, Allen has said that going full speed at the Pro Bowl and risking an injury that could cost him millions is not worth it.  He said he will play down.  He also noted that he once played against Peterson in the Pro Bowl and knows the guy is incapable of performing at any lower level of play.

BLAIR WALSH

Rookie kicker Blair Walsh, also known as the best kicker in the NFL, also plans on making his first trip to the Pro Bowl after being elected to the honor.

What is more, Walsh is planning on paying all the costs for long snapper Cullen Loeffler to go with him and hopes to get him on the Pro Bowl roster.

“He obviously came through and he’s like, ‘Yeah, definitely. I’m appreciative for everything that you’ve done,'” Loeffler said of Walsh. “He’s just been a great guy.”

JEROME FELTON

In addition to making a trip to Hawaii, Jerome Felton’s offseason will consist of contract negotiations, and it sounds like he wants to remain a Viking.  After helping Adrian Peterson to a 2,000 yard season, it sounds like the Vikings want him back to.

“Obviously you never know how it’s going to turn out. I know it’s a business and all that,” Felton said of being a pending free agent. “I feel good about being here, so I hope that they get something done before that. That’s my goal.

With so many executives, scouts, coaches, agents and players in Hawaii at once, it might just present the perfect opportunity to get those talks rolling.

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It took about a whole two, maybe three, hours before the disappointment from getting our butts handed to us via the Green Bay Packers vanished and the excitement for the offseason completely consumed me. Free agents? The draft?! Possible trades? Veterans leaving? New talent?

I love it.

Don’t get me wrong, I was as bummed about the loss as the next hardcore Vikings fan (well, maybe not as much as this guy…) but the postseason letdown didn’t feel as bad this time. Maybe it was because deep down I knew once it was announced Christian Ponder wouldn’t be starting that we would lose the game and then the next three to four hours was just a realization of that fact. Maybe it’s because nothing could have happened in the playoffs that would take away from what an amazing season 2012 was. (And, folks, it was an amazing football season.) Who knows, really.

What I do know is that I was, and am, at peace with what the Vikings did this year and what I think they’ll do in the near future.

There’s a lot to be excited about with this team. There’s a ton to look forward to this offseason and some great stories to look out for.

Here are five of the biggest stories headed into the offseason. Stories that we will be covering in [exhausting] detail here at Vikings Territory, I’m sure. Of course, there will always be a few (maybe more) developments that catch us all by surprise. You can be sure we’ll have those, too.

(Note: These do not include general things like “the draft” or “free agency.” It’s a given those will be huge. I tried to think of specific storylines that will provide intrigue, mystery and excitement.)

5. The New Stadium

I almost didn’t include the stadium on the list because it seems that, now that we’ve got our stadium, it’s more of a “I don’t care how it happens, just get it here” type thing. But, after Adam mentioned it to me when I queried the inner-workings of his very knowledgeable Vikings mind, I started to see why it could become something we talk about frequently during the offseason.

It shouldn’t be long until we start seeing a real design for this thing.  And that will be pretty dang cool. We’ll finally get to see what this thing will look like. What features it will have. Does it have a retractable roof? Seat warmers? Does it have a mammoth monitor floating eerily above the ant-sized players a hundred or so feet below? Who knows.

It will be something tangible at that point. Something we can look at and say, “Okay. So that’s going to be where I take my children to watch my Minnesota Vikings a few years from now.” (Maybe more if you’re me).

It’s been an idea up until this point. A finalized design that we can see is a big step to it becoming a real, real reality. (A real one.)

4. Backup Quarterback Backup Plan

Christian Ponder’s late season surge (and potentially even his absence from the playoff game at Lambeau) solidified his role as the Vikings starter at quarterback next season. Head coach Leslie Frazier has even already made it public. That’s all good and fine, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Vikings still need to figure some things out at the quarterback position during the offseason.

I’m not going to torch Joe Webb too much because I honestly feel like he’s better than what he showed Saturday in Green Bay. The guy was thrown into an incredibly difficult situation under an offensive coordinator who remained steadfast in his stubborn ways and refused to adjust his game plan to increase the likelihood of success for Webb. Nevertheless, I don’t think Joe Webb is somebody who can really threaten Ponder for the starting position and light a fire under his butt, so to speak.

I think Ponder is going to be a good quarterback with a little more development. I take a lot of heat for that position but I’ve held it since he was drafted and I still hold it today. But I’ll be the first one to tell you that it is not a sure thing. He is not a sure thing. And the Vikings need to have a Plan B just in case it doesn’t pan out with #7.

Personally, I’d like Spielman and Co. to do some superb scouting and find a quarterback in the middle rounds who has a lot of upside. It’s also possible the team could just to go the free agent route. (Also, let’s not kid ourselves, it’s entirely possible the Vikings could not address it at all…)

Nevertheless, I think how the roster shapes up behind Ponder is something to keep an eye on.

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