Sunday, June 26, 2016

Rick Spielman

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Harrison Smith

Harrison Smith is the best kept secret in the NFL. He’s the most complete safety in the league, yet is continually over-looked for accolades and by the national media. Maybe they’ll take notice now that Dirty Harry is the highest paid (by per year average) safety after inking a 5-year, $51.25M deal with $28.578M guaranteed. Now it’s time for Harry to earn that cheddar and he seems more than ready to justify the #Faith shown by the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings.

Today’s Topics Include
• Harrison Smith Got PAID (Rightfully So)
• What’s Going On with Anthony Barr?
• Edmond Robinson Getting 1st Team Reps
• Don’t Count Out Charles Johnson Yet
• SI’s Doug Farrar Has High Praise for the Vikings Defense
• Pressure is On Trae Waynes
• Could Brandon Fusco Be Cut?
• Could This Be Kyle Rudolph’s Last Season in Purple?
• Aaron Rodgers Gave Up Cheese
#MoreThanWords Update

All that and other “Harrison Has More Equity Than Me Now” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast.

An Andy Carlson Joint

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NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks recently released his list of the 10 most talented teams in 2016, and believe it or not, the Vikings made his top five.

Brooks ranks the teams based upon how many “blue-chip players” are on the roster, which are those regarded as “among the top players in the NFL at their respective positions.” He says “championship teams usually have around eight to 10 blue-chip players on the roster.”

Brooks lists Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr, Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith as blue-chip players that should help the Vikings be one of the heavyweight contenders in the NFC.

Not only do the Vikings have a solid core of blue-chip players, but GM Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer are also collecting a growing list of rising young talent.

Acquiring too much talent is never a bad thing for an NFL franchise, that is as long as you’re not a player dangerously close to the 53-man cut bubble.

The Vikings’ coaching staff may need to burn some late-night oil when they begin the process of narrowing this talent-rich team down to the top 53 players. With OTA’s in full swing and the competition process ramping up for training camp, here are six prominent players who might find themselves in peril of losing their roster spots.

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Spielman's best and worst moves
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

(Note: This is a two-part series. The second part focuses on Spielman’s worst moves. For part one, an analysis of the best moves, click here.)

I came into this exercise fairly objectively—while I’ve always been a fan of Spielman overall, I don’t think his work has been infallible. Just before this year’s draft I had a quick online discussion with The Sportive Podcast’s “Clarence Swamptown”—one of Minnesota’s foremost Spielman detractors (at least on Twitter)—and he made some good observations of where the Vikings GM has gone wrong. The conversation gave me some perspective and helped balance the voice of a fanbase that can be overwhelmingly pro-Spielman at times. I will say, though, in the end, I found this two-part series weighted more heavily in favor of the “Best Moves” half. Spielman’s list of worst moves, at least for me, was thinner and more difficult to scrounge together; there were far less blatant failures than there were slam dunks. Perhaps that’s the nature of personnel in the NFL—for example, if you draft a player in the first round, that probably means he’s talented and has a good shot to succeed, so hitting on first-rounders should be the norm, not the exception. Regardless, as you’ll read in the descriptions below, I struggled with this list.

I imagine Swamptown would respond with something to this effect: Spielman’s biggest failures are consistent, smaller whiffs, rather than grandiose, headline grabbing ones (please correct me if I’m wrong, Clarence). And that type of failure—ill-fated mid-round picks, smaller name free agents that didn’t work out, etc.—is probably as important in contributing to a team’s success as the big splashes. It just doesn’t translate as well to a list like this.

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Vikings Make Harrison Smith NFL's Highest Paid Safety
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Harrison Smith’s patience was finally rewarded; the Minnesota Vikings made their star defender the NFL’s highest paid safety, inking Smith to a five-year, $51.25 million contract extension. According to the team’s official website, the move was an offseason goal for general manager Rick Spielman, who has a history of retaining key draft picks.

Shortly after the announcement, the media took to Twitter to release Smith’s contract details, and the numbers were impressive. Over the next three years, Smith will make an average of $10.75 million, putting him ahead of Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas ($10 million per year).

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com was the first to break down Smith’s guaranteed money, which includes a full guarantee of $15.278 million and $28.578 million in total guarantees. The deal keeps Minnesota’s dynamic, dual-threat safety in Purple and Gold through the 2021 season.

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Looking back on 10 years of Rick Spielman

Spielman's best and worst moves
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

(Note: This is a two-part series. The first part focuses on Spielman’s best moves. Part two, an analysis of the worst moves, will be posted tomorrow.)

Earlier this week marked the 10-year anniversary of Rick Spielman joining the Minnesota Vikings. Spielman’s job has evolved over time—he was initially hired as the Vice President of Player Personnel in 2006, replacing the short-tenured Fran Foley in the Vikings’ “Triangle of Authority,” and in 2012 was promoted to General Manager and has acted as the single voice for all football matters since then. Ten years is more than enough time to make your mark on a franchise, so we (okay, technically it was Brett’s idea) thought it would be good to look back on some of Spielman’s best an worst moves at the helm.

Since he didn’t assume full control until 2012, attributing transactions prior to that year directly to Spielman is a cloudy proposition; indeed, it was exceedingly difficult to pin down who exactly in that infamous triangle was calling the shots from 2006-2012. But we can rely on educated guesses to navigate those years, and the assumption is that most football personnel moves have had Spielman’s fingerprints on them since he arrived in town. If conventional wisdom indicates a particular decision was made outside of his control, I’ll note that and categorize accordingly.

Our first installment of this two-part series looks back at Rick Spielman’s best moves.

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