Saturday, February 13, 2016

phil loadholt

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Second only to the NFL Draft, the first week of the league’s free agency period is one of the most exciting parts of the NFL offseason each and every year. Sometimes it works out and other times it does not for a team and their expensive new player or players.

It is always fun for fans to hope that their team goes out and signs the top available free agents, but that is not always the best strategy for their favorite team. Some fans need to be more realistic when it comes to who they think their team could sign.

When the free agency period for this upcoming NFL year begins on March 9th, there will be a few players that could land with the Vikings. Who are some of the more realistic options in free agency that could fit with the team in Minnesota?

returning right tackle Phil Loadholt
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Fans of the Minnesota Vikings collectively gasped when Phil Loadholt tore his achilles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason. Considered one of the team’s best offensive linemen, Loadholt has been an integral piece in the success of the offense, especially as a run blocker for Adrian Peterson.

His loss opened the door for right tackle T.J. Clemmings, whose rookie season was nothing short of a struggle. The fourth-round pick was a liability in pass protection, and offensive coordinator Norv Turner often shifted tight end and running back protection his way. With the news that Loadholt’s recovery is on track and he’ll be ready for offseason workouts, the Vikings will have to make a tough choice when deciding who starts at right tackle next year.

With a lengthy injury history, the 30 year-old Loadholt is a potential risk if the Vikings do bring him back next season. His cap number will be $7.75 million in 2016, and his status for training camp is still up in the air. If Loadholt does recover and wants to continue playing football, general manager Rick Spielman has four legitimate options:

  1. Sign Loadholt to a restructured deal this offseason
  2. Trade Loadholt to a right tackle-needy team this offseason
  3. Release Loadholt and move forward with T.J. Clemmings
  4. Retain Loadholt without restructuring his current contract

Seeing as Loadholt’s situation will be a topic of discussion among Vikings fans, I decided to ask the VT Team a right tackle-centric question this week: What should the Vikings do with Phil Loadholt next season?

Vikings Jeff Davidson Offensive Line
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In his final press conference of the 2015 season, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer thanked the University of Minnesota, revealed his players’ offseason surgeries, and announced the release of one of the team’s coaches.

According to Zimmer, the team has parted ways with offensive line coach Jeff Davidson. When asked why he chose not to retain Davidson’s contract, Zimmer told reporters, “I didn’t want to.”

Davidson spent five years with the Vikings. He was a holdover from Leslie Frazier’s coaching staff and led a unit that struggled over the past two seasons. In 2014, the line allowed 51 sacks. In 2015, the banged-up group allowed 45 more sacks. Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was the victim of 44 of those — far too many in Norv Turner’s Air Coryell offense.

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Instead of working on a Monday morning (overrated), I decided to yammer on for 40 minutes about the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings offseason, what priorities should/should not be in free agency and the draft, who’s safe and who’s not on the offensive line and which training camp battles I’m excited to see. Straight off the cuff, unprepared (shocker), unrehearsed Vikings takes if you’re into that sort of thing.

All this and other “Shut Up, Old Man” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

I’m just a 30 year old guy with a $200 Chromebook.

I am not a former NFL player or coach. I don’t have some crazy insider access. I’m not the guy that’s going to feed your football analytics craving. Heck, I’m not even that strong of a writer.

I’m just a guy that loves Vikings football, started a website, and surrounded himself with enough talent to make this whole thing fairly successful.

Since Sunday’s epic failure at TCF Bank Stadium, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about this Vikings team, and I can tell you that the media coverage of this team has abruptly changed their narrative. Perhaps to an even stronger degree, the fan reaction to those articles and radio shows has gone to an extreme end of the spectrum, as well.

I’ve told you what I’m not, as a writer, but what I am is someone that’s been around the block a time or two covering this team. And, let me tell you, writing about a team’s failures is enormously E-A-S-Y.

It is far easier to write about glaring mistakes leading to a loss than it is to illustrate for a reader just how, exactly, a team found success. It is easier to write a powerful article about a player hurting a child than it is to pen a compelling piece about a linebacker that helps them every single day (Vote for Chad!). It is easier to call for a man’s head than it is to produce a list of adequate replacements.

It is just easier to point out the negatives at every turn, both as a writer and as a fan, than it is to articulate the positives.

So, why the ramblin’ preamble?

Well, I want you to know that what I am about to write isn’t an attempt to pile on. I’m not trying to kick this Vikings team while they are down. It isn’t coming from a place of wavering fanhood. I’m not trying to be negative simply because it is E-A-S-Y and popular to do it at this moment.

I’m just a guy at his keyboard… a guy who has carefully observed the 2015 Minnesota Vikings… a guy who says there is no way in hell this is the year they bring home the Super Bowl victory.

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