Wednesday, February 10, 2016

kyle rudolph

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keeping mike wallace
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Any way you look at it, Mike Wallace’s first season with the Vikings was a disappointment. He was acquired last offseason to be a deep threat for Teddy Bridgewater and, presumably, resemble a number one receiver. Neither really came to fruition; Wallace posted career lows in receiving yards, yards per catch, and touchdowns, and his longest reception was 34 yards. While he did find a workmanlike niche in the offense, there wasn’t a single game in which Wallace made a major splash. In all, it wasn’t the game-changing presence the Vikings had hoped for.

Wallace is signed through 2017, and owed $11.5 million each of the next two years. That would make him the fourth-highest paid receiver in the league for 2017—not exactly a slot that matches his production. For that reason, many Vikings fans are in favor of cutting bait and using the money elsewhere. However, there are plenty of reasons it makes sense to bring the speedy receiver back for 2016. Here are a few:

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More than just Jim Kleinsasser 2.0

Minnesota Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison is a key contributor
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Rhett Ellison tries to stand up, but his right knee won’t let him. One step, and the leg gives out. Something’s wrong. Seriously wrong.

There’s a little over 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game, and Teddy Bridgewater throws a pass to Ellison out of the backfield. The tight end turns upfield, but Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Perry pulls him down from behind. His right leg gets stuck in the ground and suddenly “pops.” It’s a torn patellar tendon, an injury that’ll keep him down for at least six months.

Down, but not out. That’s because Ellison represents every cliché in the football book; tough, gritty, hardworking, reliable. An injury is just another obstacle, much like the defenders he meets in the trenches or safeties swarming to tackle him down the field. It’s Ellison’s job to recover and make it back onto the field this offseason, and it’s a job he’ll gladly accept.

No matter what the Vikings have asked of Ellison, he’s done so without hesitation. Line up in front of Adrian Peterson as a fullback? Check. Spilt out as a slot wide receiver? Check? Contribute on every special teams unit? Check. He’s the Swiss Army Knife in Mike Zimmer’s pocket, and the tool these Vikings will need in 2016. Set to become a free agent this March, Ellison deserves one more shot in Minnesota, whether fully healthy or not. Without him, the Vikings are another crucial piece away from the Super Bowl.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

When it comes to trades, the NFL is usually not known for these types of transactions as much as other professional sports leagues have been such as the NBA, NHL, and MLB. However, the league did have a total of 38 trades in 2015 before the start of the regular season that featured at least one player (not just draft picks) and that total is the highest it has been in the last three years.

In the last three NFL offseasons, there have been a total of 89 trades made before the start of that year’s regular season. The Vikings have been involved in four of those 89 trades, including three in 2015.

Will Minnesota and general manager Rick Spielman participate in any trades in this upcoming offseason? If they do, who has the possibility of leaving town?

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Vikings Post-Season Awards
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

If there’s one thing Minnesota Vikings fans can agree on, it’s that the 2015 season didn’t end as well as we all hoped (or thought) it would. At 11-5 and atop the NFC North, Mike Zimmer’s team surprised the NFL world, knocking off the Green Bay Packers to storm into the playoffs for the first time since 2009. But Blair Walsh’s missed last-second field goal ended what had been a promising campaign in Minnesota.

Fortunately, it was a season to remember, and a season to build upon in the coming years. With one of the league’s best coaches at the helm and a young roster built to last, the Vikings should stay competitive in 2016 and beyond. Before we jump too far into the offseason though, now presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on a memorable 2015.

We saw rookies outperform their draft positions and 30 year-old running backs lead the league in rushing. We saw a second-year quarterback shine, and often struggle behind a leaky offensive line. More importantly, we saw a team realize it’s potential and exceed expectations. To celebrate the successful season, we’re asking you to hand out awards to the most deserving Vikings. From the Most Valuable Player to the Rookie of the Year, the power to choose is in your hands. Without further ado, here are your VT post-season awards nominees:

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Vikings Dan Campbell coach
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In the NFL, no coaching staff remains completely the same from year to year. Often times, assistants find better opportunities elsewhere or are promoted from within. That was the case for former Miami Dolphins head coach Dan Campbell, who replaced Joe Philbin and went 5-7 in the interim role. According to reports from the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, the Minnesota Vikings recently inquired about Campbell, who was granted his release after the team hired Adam Gase as its next head coach.

The Vikings were one of three (Cowboys, Chargers) teams to express interest in Campbell, a former NFL tight end and tight ends coach with the Miami Dolphins. He took over head coaching duties in Week 5, going 5-7 in 12 games at the helm. His stint started with a bang, as Campbell led the team to two straight blowout victories over the Titans and Texans. But the Dolphins struggled down the stretch, losing seven of their last 10 games to finish the year 6-10.

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