Saturday, March 28, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "phil loadholt"

phil loadholt

“Look forward to the Draft.”

“Look forward to the Draft.”

“Look forward to the Draft.”

I have to keep repeating these words to myself through these opening days of free agency because, to be honest, I am not really enjoying myself so far.  The latest bit of information, which I buried in my previous post but will highlight seperately here, is sure to cause some excitement from Vikings fans because of the name value.

I am not one of those fans that is excited.

The Vikings have reportedly been in contact with Chicago Bears longtime middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune who cites a Vikings source.  Urlacher is reportedly seeking a salary in the range of $5,5 million.

Given the price tag and his age of 34 it really seems odd that the Vikings would be interested, especially in light of their recent release of Antoine Winfield, but despite their obvious need for a new starting middle linebacker.  Urlacher, who will actually be 35 in May, has proven to be one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the game, but his best days certainly appear to have come and gone.

Maybe the Vikings are just trying to drive up the price for Urlacher, as the Bears are still trying to retain their local hero, as payback for the Bears doing the same to them with right tackle Phil Loadholt.

When the Vikings signed veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield to a contract extension in 2009 the unique triggers in the deal, which de-escalated his salary if he were relegated to the nickel position primarily, should have been all the motivation the team’s front office needed to greatly upgrade the position and ensure Winfield stays put with a manageable salary.

Instead, the Vikings did little to add real firepower to the cornerback position and Winfield’s 2012 playing time meant his salary would be $7.25 million in 2013, which is obviously a lot to pay your average 36 year old corner.

The thing is, however, Antoine Winfield is not your average anything.

Ever since signing with the Vikings nine seasons ago, Winfield has been an example to every Vikings player to ever pass through the locker room, showing them how an NFL player ought to act off the field and how a great one ought to play on it.  He has defied logic by being the greatest tackling cornerback the NFL has ever seen despite his small stature.  He has played through emotional and physical pain.  He has neutralized some of the best running backs, wide outs, and even quarterbacks the Vikings ever played.  He has delivered speeches that resonated with his entire defense.  He has been an on-field coach and an off-field angel in the Twin Cities.  He has, almost single handedly, won some very memorable football games for us Vikings to remember and cherish forever.

His release sparked an outrage within the Viking fan community.  I tried to take emotion out of it when explaining the financial reasons for myself being upset, but still concluded that the Vikings front office was to blame.  After details of how the departure was orchestrated, however, I think the front office deserves blame for a lot more than simply the fact that Winfield was released.

Dan Wiederer of Access Vikings was the first to release details of how Winfield was informed of Rick Spielman’s decision.  Wiederer says that Winfield was at Winter Park working out on Tuesday morning when he was asked to go see Spielman in his office upstairs.  The release was described as “awkward” and “cold,” which is not terribly unusual in the business of the NFL, but it seems that this would be a situation that might warrant some extra tact.

Wiederer described Winfield as being confused and disappointed with how things played out.  Despite previous reports that indicated Winfield refused to take a pay cut to stay with the team, the report says that Winfield was never formally approached about restructuring or reducing his salary, which is why he and his agent were so taken by surprise with the move.  The report said Winfield felt like he deserved better, and all of us would likely agree with him.

I mentioned that newly re-signed right tackle Phil Loadholt had some very kind and gracious words about Minnesota shortly after his new deal was announced.  Now we know he had plenty of reasons to say such nice things.

Loadholt’s deal is reportedly good for up to $25 million over the next four seasons.  Tom Pelissero says it included a $7 million signing bonus and that Loadholt will now count $4.75 million against the 2013 salary cap.  The cap hit will increase by $1 million through every season of the contract.

That means Loadholt’s new contract will see him paid an average of $6.25 million per year, which is very high end money for a right tackle.  Those numbers are particularly impressive considering that there are a number of other right tackle options, such as Sebastian Vollmer and Andre Smith, still on the open market.

There has been a lot of negativity floating around about the Vikings decisions lately, and I am as guilty as anyone on this point, so I thought I’d share some truly classy comments with you from Phil Loadholt, as transcribed by Mike Wobschall:

“I love being in Minnesota, love the community, and my family feels really at home,” Loadholt said. “It’s been great settling in Minnesota and calling it home. I was drafted here, and I wanted to come back and finish what we started here. I have a good feeling about where things are going with this team. We’ve just got to continue to build on what we’ve got and keep improving.”

“It was important to keep the consistency we have on the line,” Loadholt said. “The more we keep working together the better we will be as a group. If we continue to stay healthy and work hard we can reach our goals.”

Having the best running back in the league makes blocking a lot more fun,” Loadholt said of his fellow Oklahoma Sooner. “Adrian makes everyone’s job easier and knowing what he can do makes you want to work even harder.”

Rumor has it that Loadholt played the free agency game like anyone would, leveraging the division rival Bears against the Vikings, but it is refreshing to see some seemingly genuine comments about the organization be pleasant ones.  Loadholt will be part of the Vikings roster for years to come, and he sounds excited about that.

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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.

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