Poll Of The Week

POLL OF THE WEEK: Vikings’ Biggest Offseason Move

Although the Minnesota Vikings have been relatively quiet in free agency, they’ve made a few moves that could have lasting impacts heading into the 2015 season.

Splashy trades, surprising releases, and expensive free agent signings usually dominate headlines, but sometimes, the smaller, less-publicized transactions make or break a team’s season.

At the start of free agency, the Vikings retained a key special teams player — long snapper Cullen Loeffler. Loeffler may go generally unrecognized on Sundays, but his value to the punt team and field goal unit is critical to success and consistency in the kicking game.

Tom Johnson, a critical contributor on the defensive line last season, received a healthy pay raise in free agency, signing a 3-year contract worth $7 million. Mike Zimmer relies heavily on rotation, and Johnson thrived behind Sharrif Floyd in 2014, recording 6 sacks in just 438 snaps.

The Vikings also made major changes behind Teddy Bridgewater, trading Matt Cassel to the Bills and signing former St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill. Hill will serve as Bridgewater’s backup in 2015, replacing Cassel and the departed quarterback’s $4.75 million cap number.

On the offensive line, Minnesota retained Joe Berger, a valuable backup who started 9 games for injured right guard Brandon Fusco in 2014. The 32-year-old lineman can rotate at any of the three interior offensive line positions and may compete for the starting left guard position barring any changes in the draft or free agency.

Late last week, Rick Spielman pulled the trigger on an unexpected trade, acquiring wide receiver Mike Wallace from the Miami Dolphins for a 2015 5th-round draft pick. The next day, Spielman wasted no time shaking up the position, releasing veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings and eliminating his $45 million contract.

In lesser news, the team re-signed swing tackle Mike Harris to a one-year contract on Tuesday morning.

We want to know, Vikings fans:

Which move will have the greatest impact on the Vikings next season?

 

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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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13 Comments

  1. ….. I hope Loeffler will have some competition in camp….. I think he is at least partially responsible for FG issues last year, and def. gets the brunt of the blame for that punt snap in MIA which led to the loss. He definitively declined last year from prior years. I actually think that Locke’s holding may have contributed to Walsh’s FG issues as well. IMO team needs a new LS and P this season.

    1. The Vikings sent Prefier to Brown today to check out Long Snapper Courtland Clavette. I look for them to bring in one of the top guys as a priority free agent or possibly even burn a 7th round pick to give Loeffler competition.

  2. Austin. When you post a poll, it would be helpful to have an “other” option.
    This allows the readers of VT to discuss the subject in a much broader scope in the comments section.

  3. Of course Wallace will have the most impact. That doesn’t make it the most important signing.

  4. Let’s see. A big name WR vs three more or less annonymous OLmen. No shocker there.

    Agree with the poster who said add “Other” -or something to add a little more flavor to the poll/discussion.

    That said, Loffler has been “like a rock” but at 32 Trader Rick has to be on the hunt for his successor.

  5. In fairness to the pollster I overlooked Jennings…it’s early and I’m jet-lagged 🙁

    Still no shocker though.

  6. Appreciate the feedback, guys. I contemplated adding an “other” option to the poll, and now realize it would have been a smart idea. Next time!

    And yes, many believe the Wallace trade will have the biggest impact, but I’d also make the case for the Greg Jennings release. He was Teddy Bridgewater’s most consistent target and had a clearly defined role in Norv Turner’s offense. His departure could spell trouble if Jarius Wright can’t step in and replicate/exceed Jennings’ production.

    It’s always risky bringing in free agent wide receivers, because you can’t gauge how they’ll fit into the scheme. While Mike Wallace has the speed and ability to be successful, especially in the deep passing game, there are still concerns with his game. With that being said, his presence could open up things underneath – it’s difficult to gauge until we see him on the field.

    Even Tom Johnson’s signing could be an impact move for the Vikings. They value the veteran, as evidenced by the contract they gave him, and he could play a big role in the defense next year. Sharrif Floyd has always struggled with injuries, and Johnson is an important security blanket and rotational player if Floyd goes down.

    Again, appreciate the feedback guys.

  7. I’m not 100% sold on Wallace, and neither is the Vikings front office. I’ve heard it referred to as a 1-year “prove it” deal. If he doesn’t work out this year, we can cut him with no cap penalty. I wouldn’t call that a ringing endorsement of the guy.

    I know he’s done some amazing things in Pittsburgh and Miami, and I don’t deny that he gives us a viable deep threat, but I don’t see him as a significant upgrade over Jennings at this time. That’s why I picked Johnson in the poll. There’s a guy who we know can help us on defense. An unpopular choice, to be sure, but I’m sticking with it. He played well with limited snaps. DT is a position of depth for us, and will now remain so.

  8. There’s two separate questions. In the title, it says;
    POLL OF THE WEEK: Vikings’ Biggest Free Agency Move

    At the actual poll, you changed it to:
    Which move will have the greatest impact on the Vikings next season?

    The first question is specific to Free Agency, which precludes the Wallace Trade. The second question is much broader, and as others have mentioned, an ‘other’ option would be good.

    The Vikings decided to retain Loeffler for another year, after his personal-worst season ever, ranking as one of the worst LS’ers in the league. I think that’s pretty important, and probably a mistake.

    The Vikings decided to pre-emptively release Charlie Johnson, LG, which signaled an end to accepting a mediocre solution in that position. However, last year, Johnson, as mediocre as he was, was still better than Yankey or Berger, so I don’t know that there’s any improvement here. They wiffed on getting any of the top 3 OGs in FA, so clearly they understand they need a starting caliber player in that slot. Letting go of Johnson may turn out to have the biggest impact of all, if Bridgewater has to continue running for his life because of an under-performing left side of the O-line.

  9. From all I’ve ever heard the NFL locker room is a unique environment the best of which creates a brotherhood not unlike, with all due respect, a combat unit, tempered by a common struggle and bound by trust. Recently one of the Pouncey brothers called Mike Wallace a COWARD for walking off the field, this could be a problem, similar behavior led to Randy Moss’ exile to the Raiders. If Wallace is the man he likes to think he is, and the team needs him to be, he needs to stand up in that Mankato foxhole and tell his teammates he made a mistake and that they can count on him, I imagine this would go a long way to cementing his place

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