Sunday, July 5, 2015

phil loadholt

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.

A full quarter of the NFL teams placed their franchise tag on a player by Monday’s deadline and the Vikings were not one of them, as expected.  Their only real candidate for the tag was right tackle Phil Loadholt, but it wasn’t too surprising that the Vikings were not willing to invest nearly $10 million into one year of service from Loadholt.  Instead, they will probably try to negotiate a more financially feasible contract that keeps him in purple for years to come, or move on and begin the search for his replacement.

Two offensive tackles did receive the franchise tag this year, however, as Branden Albert of the Chiefs and Ryan Clady of the Broncos both were too valuable to their respective teams to let them just walk away.  In my free agent rankings for tackles I had Clady at #2 and Albert at #5, with Loadholt between them at #4.  These two are left tackles, however, and being taken off the free market shouldn’t provide Loadholt with too much leverage over the Vikings.

The Chiefs tagging Albert is interesting for two reasons.  First, they were able to pull the trigger on the tag because they reached a last minute agreement with receiver Dwayne Bowe in the form of a five year agreement.  I listed Bowe as my #1 ranked free agent wide receiver, so it is disappointing to see those options begin to dwindle.  Second, keeping Albert in the fold provides an added sense of mystery when it comes to how the Chiefs will use their first overall draft pick.

Defensive tackle is also a major need for the Vikings and two top options were taken away via the franchise tag there, as well.  Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton was my top overall defensive tackle, with Randy Starks of Miami coming in 5th, but now both have been tagged and are essentially unavailable.

Safety Jairus Byrd of the Bills ranked atop his position, as well, but the Bills placing the franchise tag on him means some other interesting options may be available including guard Andy Levitre and cornerback Leodis McKelvin.

Defensive end Michael Johnson of the Bengals, defensive end Anthony Spencer of the Cowboys, and Colts punter Pat McAfee were the remaining three players to be tagged.

 

 

The deadline for teams to place their franchise tag on a pending free agent is Monday at 4:00 p.m. and only five tags have been placed so far.

The Vikings are not expected to use their tag this offseason despite Phil Loadholt, Jamarca Sanford, and Jerome Felton all currently unsigned.  Felton would be way overpaid because there is no difference between a fullback and running back as far as the franchise tag is concerned, while Sanford has yet to prove himself as being anywhere close to worthy of the tag.

Loadholt is not somebody the Vikings would want to lose easily, but he also isn’t likely to see them hand over $9.8 million for one year of service, particularly with so many other right tackle possibilities available via free agency and the Draft.

What will be of interest to the Vikings tomorrow, however, is keeping track of who gets tagged and who doesn’t.  They may have to cross some potential free agency targets off their list, but it will also provide some clarity as to which players are likely to hit the open market.

For instance, the Buffalo Bills already placed their tag on playmaking safety Jairus Byrd, but that means guard Andy Levitre is soon going to be allowed to sign with another team.  Defensive end Michael Johnson of the Bengals was franchised and so right tackle Andre Smith could also be available.

The other three players to be tagged so far are punter Pat McAfee of the Colts, left tackle Ryan Clady of the Broncos, and defensive tackle Henry Melton of the Bears.

We’ll keep an eye on Monday’s action all day long and be sure to update you on how, if at all, the Vikings might be impacted by all of this.

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