Thursday, July 2, 2015

percy harvin

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Today, Leslie Frazier did exactly what every head coach begins a season hoping he doesn’t have to do, he gave his end of the season press conference without being able to boast an NFL Championship.

That doesn’t mean, however, that this three-win team from a year ago doesn’t have plenty of positives to hang their hat on as they leave Winter Park and Frazier made sure to point out each of those.

As anyone could predict, Frazier said all of the right things that one would expect him to say at the presser, which you can watch by clicking here.  Because of these expectations, I hardly feel that things he said are really newsworthy because we all knew exactly what would be said.

Christian Ponder is the starter next year.  Frazier would like to see everybody back to training camp no matter how old they are getting, how much they are getting paid, or how little they produced this season.  Joe Webb will compete for a backup spot again.  Percy Harvin has no attitude problems and has no reason to not come back next season.

All positive… but all predictable.

I’m not suggesting he is not genuine when touching on the positives, I simply mean to point out that not much stock should be put into his words when it comes to the touchier subjects.

I will say this, however, I cannot remember a Vikings head coach in my lifetime that presents himself as well as Leslie Frazier.  The guy is pure class, and I am excited about him getting his contract extension, which both he and Zygi Wilf indicated would be worked out at some point this offseason.

Leslie Frazier improved greatly in his second season as Head Coach and he represents the Minnesota Vikings organization about as well as, if not better than, any coach in the NFL represents their respective teams.

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It’s game day, gentleman (and ladies). We’re about eight hours away from the start of one of biggest game the Vikings have played in quite some time. Just rolled out of bed. Got some coffee in hand. Let’s get to those questions, shall we?

Q: Everybody knows it, but why is Adrian Peterson this year’s MVP? (Malte)

Obviously, I can’t look at the debate between Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson objectively. That being said, I do not understand the argument for Peyton Manning as MVP over Peterson. If Manning wins, it should be renamed to Most Valuable Quarterback because he is not more valuable to the Broncos than AD is to the Vikings. For one, Manning isn’t even the best quarterback in the league this year. Last time I looked over the stats for quarterbacks, I don’t remember Manning leading in a single one of them. Here’s what it comes down to: Adrian Peterson willed this team to 10 victories. He threw this team over his shoulder and carried them to seven more wins than last season running through [usually] nine defenders in the box on any given play. Especially once Percy Harvin left, Peterson was the Vikings only offensive weapon. Peyton Manning stepped onto a playoff caliber team with a great defense, great receivers and an already pretty solid foundation. Yes, he gave the team five more wins than they had last year, but I believe you put any other ‘elite’ QB in that role and Denver ends the season with the same (if not better) record. What Adrian Peterson did this season could not be done had any other running back been in his shoes. It’s that simple. That is value. Peterson deserves this award. (Alas, if I had to wager today, I would say that Manning ends up winning the dang thing.)

Well, here we are, fans of a team that nobody expected to make the playoffs.  Now that they have, nobody expects the Vikings to do much in the playoffs.

Here is the best of the best from around the net:

Three players.  The undetermined futures.  Three attempts at an answer.

Antoine Winfield

As readers pointed out to me last night, I was wr-wr-wr-wr-mistaken in saying that Antoine Winfield would be playing for a $3 million salary next season.  Winfield played enough snaps this season to trigger an escalator for 2013, and reverse a de-escalator for 2012, and he will be owed $7.25 million if the Vikings keep him next season.

The way Winfield has been playing at age 35, there is little reason other than the salary to expect the Vikings to part ways with him, as he has arguably been as valuable as any member of this defense.  Evidence of this can be seen by watching last weekend’s game and seeing the passing game of the Packers pick up after Winfield made his early exit.

All indications are that Winfield will do everything possible to play this Saturday night, and he has also reportedly has no interest in hanging up his cleats after this season.  Depending on just how much longer Winfield plans on playing may determine his willingness to renegotiate a contract extension to reduce his 2013 cap number.

Percy Harvin

I got this question more than once since the Vikings qualified for the postseason, and the answer is “no,” Percy Harvin cannot be reactivated from the injured reserve and make a playoff appearance.  In a new rule, teams are allowed to designate one player per season as “eligible for return” when they are placed on injured reserve, but the Vikings has already used this designation on Chris Cook prior to Harvin’s injury.  Cook, of course, has since been able to return and have an impact in the last two games.

Disclaimer:  The rest of this is 100% pure speculation.

Harvin suffered a ligament tear in his ankle and was placed on injured reserve on December 5th, a time when the Vikings playoff hopes looked to be all but dead.  He has since had an emergency appendectomy.

What isn’t know, however, is whether or not Harvin would otherwise be healthy enough to return at some point during a playoff run if the rules allowed it.  Earlier in December, there was some speculation that Harvin has once again grown disgruntled with the Vikings brass and his decision to rehab in Florida instead of Minnesota will only fuel such speculation, whether it is founded or otherwise.

I just can’t help but wonder if we will soon be getting word from Harvin, via Twitter of course, that he feels healthy enough to play football and wishes he were on the field.

This type of development would prove that Harvin is not happy with the Vikings, but also divide a fan base with half of them wondering if Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman prematurely ending his season was a huge blunder.  After all, guys like defensive end George Johnson, who found a roster spot thanks to Harvin’s absence, haven’t exactly had a huge impact at the bottom of the roster.  A guy like Harvin could potentially be a game changer at any point in any game.

His future with the team remains a mystery, but I expect we’ll be hearing much more very soon.

Jerome Simpson

A troubled receiver receives a prove-it deal in Minnesota.  Said receiver proceeds to get himself constantly hurt and underperform greatly.  If that wasn’t enough to guarantee his ticket out of town following the season, then calling one of the local media’s most respected beat writers a “douchebag” ought to do the trick.

Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN said that on Tuesday Jerome Simpson, for unknown reasons, called him a douchebag and that Leslie Frazier later called the reporter to apologize for his receiver’s words.

Now, I don’t know Pelissero personally, but I have spoken with him on a couple of occasions and interacted with him plenty and would not characterize him as anything other than honest, opinionated, and hard working.

I don’t know the whole story, but I am guessing that if Frazier is anything like any boss I have ever had, having to call and apologize for one of his employee’s actions will not sit well with him.

Back in April The Sporting News decided to dig into the past and expose some not-so-flattering stories about Percy Harvin, Urban Meyer, and the Florida program in general.  Their findings illuminated Harvin as an entitled young man with a short temper.

At the time, the piece had the feel of a hit job of sorts, and many questioned the odd timing of this information coming out.

With a recent report from 1500 ESPN describing yet another confrontation between the uber-talented receiver and his current coach, Harvin’s status as a Viking is yet again being called into question.

Reports of the past have included throwing a college coach on the ground and putting hands around his neck, testing positive for marijuana prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, throwing a weight at former head coach Brad Childress, and requesting a trade prior to this season before performing a sudden about-face.  That list would be enough to call any player unreliable, and we haven’t even started talking about his long list of injury and health issues.

Some Vikings fans are going to want to bury memories of Randy Moss departing Minnesota (twice) in their subconscious and assume the Vikings will “pay the man” and that Harvin will get a deal that makes him a Viking for life.

The phrase “where there is smoke there is fire” comes to mind, however.  And the player that has earned the nickname “Cheech” in this corner of the internet seems to always be surrounded by plenty of smoke.

Still, lots of options exist for how this could play out and I want to take a second to look at each one (and there could be more) in great detail.

Pay The Man

The Vikings may never be certain that they have made Harvin permanently happy in Minnesota, but they can always try and then hope for the best, and the best way to do that is by getting out the checkbook.

Entering the final year of his rookie deal Harvin is set to make a paltry $1.55 million in 2013.  Considering the impact he can have on a football game, and his particular need for long term financial security as an injury prone player, it isn’t surprising that Harvin would be willing to go to battle against the Vikings front office in an effort to get guaranteed money.

The question facing the Vikings will be just how much money they are willing to pay their 24 year old game changer.  Agent Joel Segal has been known to milk team’s for all they are worth in regards to his top clients.  Evidence in this can be found in the contracts for Michael Vick (6 years, $100 million), Chris Johnson (6 year, $55 million), and DeAngelo Hall (6 year, $55 million).

More specifically, Segal raided plenty of coffers with receivers of lesser talent than Harvin which include Josh Morgan (2 years, $11.5 million), Marques Colston (5 years, $36.3 million), and Pierre Garcon (5 years, $42.5 million).  Each of these contracts came with considerable, to say the least, guarantees.

He’s been at it for a long time, too, and in 1999 he made Antonio Freeman the highest paid receiver in NFL history with a seven year deal worth $42 million.

I suspect Harvin, on a five year deal, would demand somewhere in the neighborhood of $55 million with about $25 million guaranteed.  That is a hefty price indeed, but one the Vikings might have to pay if they don’t want to reduce their receiver group down to absolutely nothing, a possibility that both Harvin and his agent are well aware of.

The thing to keep in mind about taking on that big of a cap hit for Harvin is that there really is no team in the NFL that can, or does, pay two big money receivers.  With the Vikings obviously needing help at the position, a blockbuster contract for Harvin would be quite the commitment to him and an acceptance that any other real help is going to have to come in the NFL Draft or in the form of low-cost free agent fliers.

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