Sunday, December 11, 2016

Rick Spielman

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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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VT QOTW

final 53-man roster for the Vikings
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The bubble; the void at the bottom of an NFL roster where a player’s season can sink or swim. Minnesota Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels has made a living on the bubble, scraping his way onto the final 53-man roster like clockwork each year. Journeymen and undrafted free agents spend most of their careers on the edge, but they’re not the only ones in fear of the eventual ‘pop.’

When a team like the Vikings consistently builds through the draft and retains young talent each offseason, they make it more difficult for those at the bottom of the depth chart to stick around. Sometimes, it’s a matter of circumstances; when Rick Spielman uses a first round pick on a wide receiver, another will have to go to make room on the roster. Other times, it’s a matter of players wearing out their welcome; think Gerald Hodges last year, and possibly, Cordarrelle Patterson this offseason.

Front offices have to make sacrifices when constructing a roster. It’s the reality of life in the NFL, where starting positions are only guaranteed if your name is Adrian Peterson or Teddy Bridgewater. Spielman’s cuts, as they do each year, will include a few surprising names. Who, exactly? That’s what the Vikings Territory team is going to try and answer today!

Fill in the blank — ‘Player X’ will not make the final 53-man roster for the Vikings.

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Welcome To The Big Show - Kentrell Brothers

The team at Vikings Territory has been busy working to get to know each of our newest Vikings draft selections, and this week we will give you a chance to learn everything we know about these players through our reintroduction of the “Welcome to the Big Show” series.

ATTRIBUTES

HEIGHT: 6′ 0″
WEIGHT: 245 pounds
ARM LENGTH: 30.75 inches
HANDS: 9.75 inches

PRO DAY RESULTS

40-YARD DASH: 4.73 seconds
BENCH PRESS: 19 repetitions (of 225 pounds)
VERTICAL JUMP: 31.5 inches
BROAD JUMP: 9 feet, 2 inches (NFL Combine results)
20-YARD SHORT SHUTTLE: 4.11 seconds (NFL Combine results)
3-CONE: 6.99 seconds (NFL Combine results)

His poor 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine (4.89) hurt his draft stock, but his three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle was among the top three performers at his position. His short area quickness and change of direction ability is what shows up on game tape. 

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