Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "Rick Spielman"

Rick Spielman

On the same day that the Vikings receiver depth chart was blown to smithereens  by a deal that sent Percy Harvin to Seattle, Rick Spielman made his first attempt at reconstructing it.

And he missed.

Pro Football Talk reports that the Vikings offered a seventh round pick to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for 32 year old Anquan Boldin and his $6 million salary.  The San Francisco 49ers, who couldn’t be happy about Percy Harvin just joining their division rivals, were the high bidder with a sixth round pick.

Immediately following the Harvin trade Vikings fans, via Twitter and Facebook, immediately ran a long list of potential replacements through their heads.  Victor Cruz (tendered with a first rounder), numerous prospects, Greg Jennings, and Mike Wallace are at the forefront of those conversations.

Boldin, once a premier wide out in this league, is on nearing the end of his career and I have to say that I am not too terribly disappointed that this trade didn’t come to fruition.  He might prove me wrong in San Francisco for a year or two, but I just didn’t feel like news of trading for Boldin was the right medicine for just watching Percy Harvin walk out the front door.

Sid Hartman, the oldest member of the Vikings Cheerleading Team, is at it again.

For a guy that normally uses this time of year to boost the morale of fanbase, Hartman has decided to pass along a disheartening piece of information about the Percy Harvin saga, just in time for Sunday morning’s paper.

Hartman says that he has gotten word from “some good sources” in the NFL that the troubled receiver has told the Vikings that he no longer wants to play for them and would like to be traded.  Additionally, Hartman says there is no way that Harvin would be reporting for duty when the Vikings begin offseason workouts on April 22nd, which is not a surprise to anyone that is paying attention.

I have noticed over the years that Hartman seems more than willing to be a pawn in the Vikings public relations efforts, and I can’t help but wonder where Hartman got this information and what motives the “sources” had for leaking it, and I find it interesting that Hartman goes out of his way to point out the leverage the Vikings still have in this situation and give credence to Rick Spielman’s assertions that the team will not be trading Harvin.

One must keep in mind that Spielman and his staff are currently fighting a war on two fronts.  They have to balance between maintaining leverage with Harvin, in case negotiations do eventually take place, and also maintain a good game face to maximize their selling price if it comes down to a trade scenario.  Hartman seems to do a good job of helping Spielman out on both fronts with this latest report.

This could all be over as soon as Tuesday.  It may also last right up until Draft Day in April, or even longer.  In theory, this thing could play out over the course of the next couple of years, but that is sounding less and less likely with every report that comes out.

Short of an actual trade, the Vikings signing one of the top free agent receivers available this offseason would be the surest sign of all that the Vikings are ready to move on and will work hard towards shipping Harvin out of town.  Ironically enough, it could be Harvin’s contract demands that prevent a deal from taking place quickly.

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.

 

Are you a wide receiver that has declared for the 2013 NFL Draft?  You are?  Well, then you can fully expect that between now and Draft Day you will be the subject of my “Draft Target” series at some point because, well, the Vikings need help at the position.

Quinton Patton, you are up next!

Patton hails from Louisiana Tech where he played for his junior and senior seasons after playing his first two seasons for the football powerhouse that is Coffeyville Community College.  Patton stands at 6′ 0″ and 200 pounds and combined for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns in his final two seasons.

The Vikings reportedly met with Patton during this week’s Combine, which isn’t anything surprising, but they are sure to be interested in a wide out with his skill set to try and boost their offensive production.  A guy like Patton is of particular interest because he is not expected to require a first round investment to obtain.

Patton doesn’t have elite size and he didn’t burn up the forty yard dash in Indy (4.53), but he has very soft hands and is perhaps the most refined route runner in this class.  In fact, Patton didn’t finish among the best at any Combine event other than the 20 yard shuffle, which somewhat aligns with his pedigree.

Where Patton might lack elite he speed he makes up for it with excellent fundamentals.  He gets of the line very quick which prevents an opposing corner from jamming him with success, he displays very good acceleration and body control throughout his route, and has enough wiggle after the catch to make great things happen.  Perhaps my favorite trait he possesses is his ability and willingness to go across the middle on a route with a toughness and attitude that reminds me of a young Brandon Marshall.

He also has a reputation as a player that never takes a play off, is very instinctive and intelligent on the field, and is a rare college prospect that is a proven down field blocker.  One of the best cornerbacks in this Draft class, Johnthan Banks from Mississippi State, says that Patton is the best and most complete wide out he played against in college.

“I feel like (Patton) from Louisiana Tech is the best receiver I’ve played against since I’ve been here,” said Banks. “I’ve gone against some good ones in the SEC, too, but he’s probably the most complete.”

Complete.  Now there is a word that is sure to appeal to Rick Spielman after his Head Coach’s recent comments about what he is looking for in a wide out.

“You’re always looking for speed at the wide receiver position,” said Frazier in Indianapolis. “We need an all-encompassing guy — can run by some people, make a difficult catch, run with the ball after he catches it.”

Patton just might be the “all-encompassing guy” that Frazier is after to take his passing game to the next level, and Spielman may not have to use up his first rounder to get him.

Oh, plus the guy can return kicks pretty darn good, too.

I have long carried a banner that says “Accuracy By Volume” when it comes to my hopes for successful Vikings drafts.

When Rick Spielman was available to the press in Indianapolis he was asked a lot of questions that he essentially left unanswered.  He offered up nothing new regarding Percy Harvin’s status with the team.  He indicated very little when it comes to possibly restructuring the contracts of veteran players such as Jared Allen and Kevin Williams.  He didn’t say much at all that couldn’t have been predicted, almost verbatim, by anyone that even casually follows the NFL.

One thing he did say, however, perhaps offers a clue to solving the puzzle that is offseason speculation.

“I like picks,” Spielman said when asked about the possibility of trading down on Draft Day.  “My goal is to always have 10, if I can have 10 picks.”

I found these two sentences to be more intriguing than all the others that he spoke combined.  Why?  Because that leaves Spielman one pick short of his goal, that’s why.

I consider this to be a sort of bat signal, an invitation to other teams, indicating the Minnesota Vikings are open for business.  It sounds to me like Spielman has every intention of adding one more pick this season, and it won’t come as a compensatory selection, and would likely prefer to get a jump start on stockpiling 2014 picks, as well.

There are a number of ways Spielman can attain his desired quantity of picks.  Trading down from the #23 spot would go a long ways towards meeting that goal, but so would trading players… good players… really good wide receivers that can also return kicks and line up as a running back, perhaps.

As the Pioneer Press managed to point out when they weren’t stalking Percy Harvin at his Florida home, the Vikings have selected 10 players in each of the last two drafts, and 18 of those 20 are still on the roster today.  Nine of them played as starters, or saw significant playing time, in 2012 and are expected to contribute even more next season.

This Draft class, as acknowledged by Spielman and plenty of others, is considered to be a very deep one with a record number of underclassmen available for the taking.  It may not be as top heavy as in years passed, but there are impact players expected to come off the board in all rounds, particularly in the offensive and defensive line groups.

Prior to the 2011 Draft, I indicated that Spielman has plenty of mistakes on record that resulted from ill-advised trades, but he has somewhat vindicated himself while enjoying more power and freedom during the Leslie Frazier era.

Spielman’s comments in Indianapolis should be considered fair warning, though, that he is aiming for three years straight of successful movement on Draft Weekend.

Which, of course, will make things a hell of a lot of fun.

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