Monday, April 27, 2015
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jerome felton

We started off our preview series by discussing the depth chart at quarterback.  I neglected to discuss Christian Ponder’s ability to run the football, one that cannot be underestimated by opposing defenses, but when talking about the Vikings offense it isn’t going to be Ponder’s legs that steal the show.

Adrian Peterson returned from major knee surgery to make 2012 the best season of his Hall of Fame career.  He started every game for the first time in his six NFL seasons.  He averaged a ridiculous six yards per carry, despite a consistent extra man or two being brought into the box to stop him, and ended the season just nine yards shy of the all time rushing record.  His 2,097 rushing yards were more than enough to lead the NFL, but so were his 76 broken tackles and 1,438 yards accumulated after contact.  He also scored 12 touchdowns one the ground and had a whopping five runs of over 60 yards.

Peterson’s dedication and work ethic are surely a huge part of his big comeback season, and it is easy to forget about the man who paved the way for him, but Pro bowl fullback Jerome Felton deserves a lot of credit for all of that success, as well.  The Vikings were wise to re-sign Felton this offseason and make sure their duo stays intact for at least one more season, as Felton proved to be a major upgrade ahead of Peterson and also blocked cleanly in pass protection, and he never committed a single penalty.

With Peterson and Felton both having robust contracts relative to their positions, and stated goals to increase their roles within the offense, there is no doubt that they will retain their seats atop the depth chart.  The primary backup to Peterson is still expected to be Toby Gerhart, who ran the ball only 50 times for 169 yards and a touchdown last season, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see his role continue to diminish as he plays out his rookie contract.

Gerhart’s true value lies in his ability to step in and be a workhouse in the event that Peterson goes down with an injury.  He has shown the ability to do this in the past and, despite being benched for a case of fumblitis against the Niners, the lack of any big signings or draft selections at the running back position suggests that the Vikings staff feels comfortable with him as the primary backup.  Besides, he is a very serviceable option when it comes to stepping in on third down for pass protection and as a decent hands guy to run the checkdown routes.  Gerhart caught 20 balls for 155 yards in 2012, and nine of those catches converted into first downs.

The Vikings let most of their pending free agents enter the three-day negotiating period without contracts in hand, but they were active on Monday re-signing a number of the top ones.

The latest Viking to re-up with the team is fullback Jerome Felton who helped pave the way for Adrian Peterson’s legendary 2012 season.

“Thanks to MN VIKINGS!!” Felton told the Twitter world.  “I’m back and excited about the future!!!!”

The fourth exclamation point really helped me realize he means it when he says he’d excited.

Linebackers Jasper Brinkley, Marvin Mitchell and Erin Henderson, offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, and wide out Devin Aromashodu are the only remaining Vikings left unsigned.

UPDATE:  The deal is reportedly for three years and worth up to $7.5 million, according to PFT.

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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.

Well, it has been a while since we have done our “links” segment, but we have some stories to direct you towards on this football-less Sunday.

  • Adrian Peterson isn’t the only Vikings to ever be named the NFL’s MVP.  Here is a look at the other two Vikings to win the honor.
  • It is no secret that Jerome Felton is someone we would all like to see sign a new contract in the very near future.  Here is why.
  • It seems to be a trending prediction to put Greg Jennings in purple next season.
  • Whether or not the Vikings have a sixth round pick this year, or not, has become somewhat of a mystery.
  • Another series of questions about Percy Harvin leaves us without any concrete answers.
  • Mike Singletary is still trying to find a way out of Minnesota.
  • Think the Vikings have a good shot at a 2013 Super Bowl?  Place your bet now.
  • “Sources” say that Percy Harvin was not placed on injured reserve because of injury, but because of his attitude, and that the team plans to move on.
  • Former Vikings great Matt Birk hasn’t yet decided if his career will end with Super Bowl win.
  • Minnesota and the Vikings are hoping to host the Super Bowl in 2018.
  • One of the best analytical sites on the internet gives us the Vikings top three needs.  I’d like to tell you there is a shocking surprise, but…
  • The Giants have cast off a few defenders already, and they might be a good fit in Minnesota.
  • A free agent wide receiver like Donald Jones makes plenty of sense for the receiver-needy Vikings.
  • A claim that local beat writers for the Vikings are too often being cheerleaders for the team, and for Christian Ponder.
  • The NFL Scouting Combine is fast approaching and here is a complete list of the 333 prospects that have been invited.
  • Now that Cris Carter is in Canton, which Vikings greats should we champion next?
  • And, here it is, your moment of Zen:

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