Thursday, January 29, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "percy harvin"

percy harvin

One month ago today the Vikings signed a CFL cornerback and they haven’t made a single roster move since.

Monday, however, the team predictably started the retooling process with their receiver group by cutting veteran Michael Jenkins, according to Adam Schefter.  Jenkins, 30, played two seasons with the Vikings where he accounted for 78 catches, 915 yards, and five scores.

A $2.425 million roster bonus was due to Jenkins this month so the Vikings were forced to decide between cutting him or investing heavily in an aging receiver that has never topped 800 yards in a season.  The decision to part ways with Jenkins provides the Vikings with a cap savings of $3.25 million, putting them at about $17.5 million in space, so it is obvious why they made the decision they did.

The Vikings receiver group was suspect even before Jenkins was cut, but now they are left with a group with more question marks than a suit worn by a Jim Carrey character.  Percy Harvin seems troubled, a Greg Childs return from injury would be unprecedented, and Jerome Simpson and Devin Aromashodu are pending free agents.  If Harvin’s circumstances don’t have him on the field opening weekend, that leaves Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton as the team’s only receivers with notable NFL experience on the roster, and that isn’t saying much.

This is just the latest sign in a long row of them that Rick Spielman and his staff are gearing up to load the receiver depth chart with new faces in an effort to improve Christian Ponder’s 31st ranked passing offense.

If the team finds themselves in a bind down the road, and he is still available, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Jenkins back with a reduced price tag.

[Note:  Want to see a list of every player featured in our “Draft Target” segment?  Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players.  Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]

The Vikings are about as needy at the receiver position as any team in the NFL.  That is why, at least on the surface, it might seem odd that they are very rarely being linked to one of this Draft class’s most dynamic pass catchers Tavon Austin.

The biggest reasons Austin is being overlooked by Vikings observers is his small frame that is likely going to prevent him from ever being a true #1 wide out in the NFL.  At 5′ 8″ and 174 pounds, Austin is built for the slot and flanker position, which the Vikings already have nailed down Percy Harvin and Jarius Wright.

Austin, along with quarterback Geno Smith and receiver Stedman Bailey, put on quite the show during his time at West Virginia.  In 2012, his senior season, Austin had the best season of his career.  He had 114 catches for 1,289 yards with 12 touchdowns, while also gaining 643 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

I am not big on using “player comparisons” as a way of evaluating rookie prospects, as it sometimes creates a false sense of expectation, but it is hard not to describe Austin’s skill set without pointing to Harvin’s production since entering the league.  He is incredibly fast, agile, and quick.  He turns on a dime and plays bigger than he is when contact is made, and seldom seems to miss an opportunity to make a play.  Like Harvin, he is plenty capable of playing as a scat back and return man, with the versatility to move all around the field and keep defenses on their toes.

At the same time, Austin will be knocked for the same things Harvin was dinged on coming out of Florida (minus the character worries, though) such as his small size and durability concerns.  Other than that, however, there is very little to worry about when evaluating him.

I will admit that the Vikings aren’t the most likely landing spot for Austin, even though #23 seems about right for him to come off the board, but the guy has such incredible talent that I would be surprised if there was an NFL team that has completely dismissed the idea of drafting him at some point.  On one hand it might seem like there is no spot for him on the Vikings, but on the other hand it is hard to watch his tape and not find yourself assuming he would be a playmaker in any offense.

Where things could get really interesting is if the Vikings do end up swinging a pre-Draft trade that ships Harvin out of town, like some have speculated will happen, because drafting a guy like Austin would suddenly make a whole lot more sense.  After all, he is an awful lot like Harvin, except without the headaches… or the migraines.

 

Free agency is right around the corner and one of the biggest offseason mysteries seems to now be resolved.

The NFL Players Association has notified NFL agents that the 2013 salary cap is to be at exactly $123 million, which is only a 1.7% increase from last year.  The formulas, accounting, nuances, and calculations that go into figuring out salary caps is a bear, but 1500 ESPN‘s Tom Pelissero has enough general details to give us an idea of where the Vikings stand.

The salaries that count against the cap are the accumulation of the top 51 salaries on the roster.  That is important to keep in mind, as often fans think signing street free agents or undrafted rookies is a waste of cap space when they may not actually count against the cap at all.

The cap is set at $123 million and the Vikings have $118 committed to their top 51 contracts, which leaves about $5 million left over.  However, a few factors are going to boost that number.  They have about half a million, actually just a little under, of dead money charged against them.

First, the Vikings received a $1.643 cap credit as a result of last offseason’s penalties against the Redskins, Cowboys and Saints for how they conducted business during the uncapped year.  Secondly, the Vikings chose to carry over about $8 million in unused space from last season.

That means, as of today, the Vikings are expected to have about $14.2 million in cap space when free agency opens.  That number puts the Vikings a little better than average compared to the other 31 franchises and in decent shape to make a run at a player or two.

That number could actually grow significantly, as Pelissero points out, by making some moves concerning their current roster.  The team is expected to jettison wide receiver Michael Jenkins, who is owed a $2.425 million roster bonus on March 16th, which would clear about $3.25 million in additional cap space.

Also, veterans like Jared Allen, Antoine Winfield, and Kevin Williams are certain to at least be approached about contract restructurings that could free up a significant amount of cash.  Jared Allen alone carries a cap number in excess of $17 million.

General Manager Rick Spielman has gone out of his way to temper the expectations of fans when it comes to free agency, claiming that the team is likely to be about as inactive as last year.  That is tough to believe when looking at the cap space available to them and some of their pressing needs.

Maybe, just maybe, the Vikings are planning to create more of a free agency stir than what is anticipated.

Of course, they may also just be trying to free up enough space to finally make Percy Harvin a happy camper.

The NFL Scouting Combine’s importance to how team’s view certain prospects can, and will, be debated until the end of time but there is little denying that it marks the beginning of the offseason.  Players, coaches, executives, and agents converge on Indianapolis and a lot of the groundwork is done over the course of the event.

The Combine is covered wall-to-wall by NFL Network and others, but I just wanted to offer up a few simple observations now that the DVR is rid of all Combine related recordings.

Alex Smith Trade:  Today, news became semi-official that the Niners will ship quarterback Alex Smith to the Chiefs in exchange for their second round pick this season and a conditional pick next season.  A number of Vikings fans have expressed interest in Smith over the last year, so this news is important in that the Smith-to-Minnesota speculation is finally dead.  Second, the move is expected to start a domino effect around the league that could see Matt Cassel playing (maybe even starting) elsewhere, could make Geno Smith and Matt Barkley fall deeper into the Draft than expected, and could set the tone for potential trades involving Matt Flynn or Nick Foles or Ryan Mallett.  Lastly, one can’t help but wonder if the Niners and their arsenal of draft picks might be interested in trading for some big names like Derrelle Revis and/or Percy Harvin.

Vikings Create An Odd Impression:  The Vikings met with a number of agents in Indianapolis, including those that represent the team’s pending free agents.  Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN recently told the Twitter world that the meeting between Vikings brass and agents were “awkward” because the team gave no indication as to their intentions or interest, but instead just asked agents where they stood in terms of money.  This sounds like Spielman just being Spielman, just trying to keep his intentions unknown, but the clock is ticking towards the beginning of free agency and the Vikings need to start taking care of some business.

Trying To Limit Winfield… Again:  Antoine Winfield was expected to be a part time player last year, and the year before that, but it just hasn’t ever happened.  Winfield has had to stay in the starting lineup due to Chris Cook’s inability to stay on the field and inconsistencies at the other starting spot.  Leslie Frazier told reporters that he wants to see Winfield play less and that makes every bit of sense, because Winfield is at his best int he nickel position and needs to take limited snaps to stay healthy.  Still, Frazier knows all too well that it is a lot easier to say than to do this, and this could be an indication that the Vikings might pull the trigger on another early cornerback in the Draft.  Dee Milliner, Johnthan Banks, Xavier Rhodes, and Desmond Trufant all deserve consideration at the #23 spot where the Vikings pick.  Frazier’s comments can also be translated to:  “We want Winfield to play part time and get paid like it.”  Winfield is expected to cost the Vikings $7.25 million in cap space this season.

Defensive Line Dominates:  This class is incredible when it comes to depth at positions along the defensive line.  I can almost guarantee there will be tackles and ends available in the second round or beyond that carry first round grades for a number of teams.  The Vikings have some needs along the defensive line, especially at defensive tackle, and if you do the math you have to figure a defensive lineman is the odds-on favorite to be the Vikings best player available when they are on the clock.  Either Kevin Williams or Jared Allen could conceivably see their future replacement drafted on day one.

Te’o Sideshow:  A lot was made of linebacker Manti Te’o’s forty time this week, but the most unattractive thing about this prospect has to be the hoards of cameras and reporters that follow him around.  The guy is a walking circus ever since his fake girlfriend story hit the internet and that can’t appeal to many teams, regardless of his perceived talent level.  Alec Ogletree, Kevin Minter, and Arthur Brown all could end up drafted ahead of Te’o who was considered a possible first overall selection just a few months ago.

Depth Creates A Buyer’s Market:  The Vikings may want to trade backwards from the 23 spot come Draft Day, in an effort to pick up more draft choices, but they may have trouble striking a deal because so many others may be looking to do the same.  It seems to be an overall consensus that this class contains enough depth that teams will feel confident that they are getting quality players in the third or fourth rounds, and those mid-round selections are going to be highly coveted.  A team that is looking to actually move forward might be able to drive the price down by talking to multiple teams and getting themselves the best deal.  Wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, and defensive back all seem to be positions of particular depth in this class.

The Vikings want an “all-encompassing” wide receiver added to the roster this year, if possible, but whether or not they can find that guy (whoever that might be) they should still be looking at others for overall improvement to the passing game’s arsenal.

One of the guys they are reportedly going to check out, according to Leonard Washington as passed along by SportingSota, is free agent wide out Steve Breaston.

After showing to be a capable receiver when starting across from Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, Breaston jumped ship to Kansas City where poor quarterback play and other factors essentially caused him to fall off the face of the earth.  According to the reports, the Vikings will meet with Breaston this week along with the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, and Detroit Lions.  He has already met with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It is a bit surprising to see the 29 year old generating this much interest.  He is five seasons removed from his career best totals of 77 catches, 1,006 yards, and three touchdowns.  Last season in Kansas City he was completely cut out of the Chiefs offense (if you want to call it that) and only managed seven catches for 74 yards.

On the surface, Breaston doesn’t really fit the mold of what the Vikings should be looking for, as he isn’t exactly a beacon of youth and doesn’t necessarily “do it all.”  At 6′ 0″ and 189 pounds he isn’t going to command a ton of red zone respect, and his speed doesn’t represent the dangerous type coveted to open things up for Adrian Peterson.

If the price is right, however, signing Breaston could make some sense when you think about Rick Spielman’s stated goals.  First, because Breaston is not a natural free agent (the Chiefs cut him) he would not count against the Vikings if they are hoping to get 2014 compensatory picks.  Only natural unrestricted free agents count against that formula, and Spielman has stated he wants to have 10 draft picks going into any Draft.

Second, the presence of a veteran receiver at this point in the offseason could relieve some pressure that is currently on Spielman to make some big moves at the position.  Breaston’s presence isn’t going to solve the Percy Harvin situation, and it won’t give the Vikings any added leverage in free agency, and it won’t squelch the need to draft some young wide outs… but, it will provide some decent insurance in case one of the above doesn’t go quite as planned.

I don’t know that Breaston is the type of guy that would ignite a fanbase, or cause a spike in season ticket sales, but it is nice to know that the Vikings haven’t totally turned out the lights on free agency before it has even started.

 

Get Social

2,068FansLike
4,017FollowersFollow