Friday, January 30, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "Rick Spielman"

Rick Spielman

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.

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports has been at the forefront of the Percy Harvin story, including a recent report that Harvin nearly walked out on his team last season, and he is tidying up this whole saga by tossing one last dose of fuel onto the fire.

Cole asserts that unhappiness with the Vikings quarterback situation, specifically Christian Ponder, was a primary driver behind Harvin’s desire to leave Minnesota.

According to two sources, the straw that broke the Vikings’ back with Harvin is when he bemoaned the fact that quarterback Christian Ponder, a 2011 first-round pick, was not good enough. That came even though Ponder consistently fed Harvin the ball.

The rumors of a trade seemed to cause unrest within Vikings fan circles.  The trade itself seems to have divided them.  Now, this report that pins some blame on Ponder may end up causing blogs and message boards to get downright nasty, at least on sites with less refined and civilized readers than we are lucky enough to have here at VT.

Some, like Christopher Gates of the Daily Norseman, will question the report and/or Harvin’s sanity since his production was never as high as it was last season, prior to his injury, with Ponder at quarterback.  He was getting manufactured touches, getting touches at running back and on special teams, and was on his way to career highs and MVP consideration before he hurt his ankle in, ironically enough, Seattle.

Others, like this hack blogger who lacks common sense, think that Harvin’s supposed gripes were plenty founded and that Christian Ponder has yet to prove that he has what it takes to lead a championship team.  Harvin’s complaints, despite his personal accomplishments, might just prove that he is a fierce competitor that simply wanted to win football games and was willing to speak his mind when he felt somebody was holding the team back.

He might have learned that from Randy Moss, who once told anyone that would listen that Brad Childress should be fired.

I’m not saying that complaining about your young quarterback is a recommended course of action, but I also can’t call Harvin any nasty names because of it when I, myself, was not satisfied with Ponder’s play in 2012.

What we do know is that Ponder has what appears to be the full support of Rick Spielman and his staff.  Here’s hoping he doesn’t make them regret that loyalty.

The details surrounding the Percy Harvin trade continue to trickle in and we nearly have achieved a full picture of what exactly went down.

The Vikings traded away the 24 year old superstar and received a trio of draft picks in return.

In 2013 the Vikings will get Seattle’s first round pick (25) and one of their seventh round picks (currently unknown which one).  In addition, multiple outlets are reporting that the Vikings received a 2014 third round pick as part of the deal.

That may not be the end of it.  Often time future picks are conditional and it could end up changing rounds if that is the case here, and it is possible that other intricacies are involved here, such as switching picks in one round or another in the Draft.  That might not be the case, but we have seen those details come out later on down the road on a number of occasions in the past, including last offseason’s trade that sent A.J. Jefferson to the Vikings.

Trading such a young and explosive talent may not be the ideal situation, but if you are going to do it then this is the type of compensation you want to get, and Rick Spielman deserves credit for maximizing the deal.  I can’t help but wonder if he was able to artificially inflate his asking price by pitting San Francisco and Seattle, division rivals, against one another in a bidding war.  Not long after the Harvin news broke, the Niners traded for Anquan Boldin who had previously been believed to be a likely cap causality of the Ravens.

The Vikings now have 11 picks in the 2013 Draft.  Five of those picks are in the top 100, at least until compensatory picks are awarded, and they are currently in a position to add two first round selections to their rebuilding efforts for the second offseason in a row.

One of the final big pieces of information we need to evaluate this trade is the contract that Harvin signs with the Seahawks, as it will more accurately portray what the Vikings would have had to sacrifice to keep him around.

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.

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