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Best and Worst Offseason Moves: Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings were able to fill with Greg Jennings the hole left by the departure of wide receiver Percy Harvin.

The Minnesota Vikings were able to fill with Greg Jennings the hole left by the departure of wide receiver Percy Harvin.

After finishing 6-10 in 2010 and 3-13 in 2011, the Minnesota Vikings surprised the world in 2012 by finishing second in the NFC North and qualifying for a Wild Card berth. Although their postseason appearance ended in disappointment, the season was almost universally considered a resounding success.

This year, general manager Rick Spielman finds himself tasked with continuing to rebuild the team. As the free-agency period winds down, let’s take a look at how he has fared in his efforts to keep Minnesota a playoff contender.

Best Moves

After two or three years of on-again, off-again drama, general manager Rick Spielman pulled the trigger on a trade of wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks. Harvin is a great slot receiver, kick returner and overall weapon, but he made little secret of his disgruntlement with his contract situation. In the ends, his financial demands were more than the Vikings were willing to match. Both sides benefited from the transaction. Harvin cut a six-year deal with the Seahawks worth $67 million, $14.5 million of which was guaranteed. Minnesota excises a locker-room cancer while netting an additional first-round pick.

Moreover, they were able to pick up Greg Jennings after he failed to come to terms with the Green Bay Packers, signing him for five years at $47.5 million. Minnesota badly needed a good outside receiving threat, and despite his recent injuries, Jennings should supply just that for second-year quarterback Christian Ponder. Not only did the move add much-needed talent to the Vikings’ depleted receiving corps, it also took an integral player from a much-hated division rival. The only real downside to the deal is Jennings’ age — he’s almost 30 — and questions about his injury history. Assuming he can stay healthy, however, this is a flat-out win for Minnesota.

Assuming they are unable to re-sign him at a lower price, the Minnesota Vikings will miss the veteran presence of cornerback Antoine Winfield.

Assuming they are unable to re-sign him at a lower price, the Minnesota Vikings will miss the veteran presence of cornerback Antoine Winfield.

Worst Move

Cutting cornerback Antoine Winfield for cap reasons was a blow to the defense. At 35 years of age, Winfield is certainly an older player, but nevertheless, he played great last year in both coverage and run defense. He played a vital role in the team’s quick turnaround after an injury-plagued 2011 campaign.

Particularly questionable was Spielman’s decision to wait until March 12th, the day free agency opened, to release Winfield, instead of doing him the courtesy of waiving him earlier. In so doing, he robbed Winfield of the opportunity to take advantage of the three-day free-for-all period the NFL had instituted this year, during which players and their agents are permitted to pit teams against each other for the best possible offers.

Winfield is still on the market and could return to Minnesota at a much-reduced sticker price, in which case this could turn out to be an intelligent, if perhaps a bit coldhearted, move on Spielman’s part. If they do end up losing Winfield to another team, though, the Vikings will truly miss his veteran presence. They will have to rely on Josh Robinson and A.J. Jefferson to make some huge strides at the cornerback position.

Future prospects

Rick Spielman seems to be settling in nicely to his role atop the Minnesota power structure. He retained guard Phil Loadholt on four-year, $25 million dollar deal, a great price for the 27-year-old, who has been a key cog in the success of running back Adrian Peterson. He also brought in Matt Cassel, the best of the lower-tier starting quarterbacks available, to back up Ponder. Cassel will push, but probably not overtake, Ponder for the starting gig.

If Jennings and the haul of 2013 draft picks pan out, the Vikings could improve upon 10-6 to contend in the playoffs. Minnesota still rides upon the shoulders of Peterson, but the load should feel a little lighter this year.

195 comments
Eschew Obfuscation. Espouse Elucidation.
Eschew Obfuscation. Espouse Elucidation.

If you guys want Livefyre to work better, don't embed so many images. Seriously. Most of the problems you complain of have far more to do with overstressed browsers than with Livefyre itself. I experience the same problems on overactive Tumblr blogs.

robertj72
robertj72

LiveFyre is fucking me again....This format is getting so glitchy it is becoming a real issue.

bp.
bp.

Back in the day it was:

1) I respect and hate the bears;

2) I hate the Vikings worse than anything that has ever existed;

3) Barry Sanders is sorta cool, and the Lions are not really a threat;

4) WTF is TB in our division again?  Also, lol Dilfer.


Now its:

1) I respect and hate the bears;

2) I hate the Vikings, but I got older so now I hate some other things more;

3) I find nothing more obnoxious than the Lions.

bp.
bp.

LKP - did you know that searching "boombaya" in google images brings up a number of photos of NFCN players from the espn blog?  You changed the world.

LKP
LKP

Lions hosted Te'O. HULK SMASH

robertj72
robertj72

Good question....do you root for your division when not playing against you? Like in college? For me...I never root for TB, NOR nor Atlanta...I hope for them to lose 83-0...But I hate Dallas so if a poor team in the division faces Dallas I could see me temporarily suspending my anti-NFCS opponent sentiment.

LKP
LKP

The Vikings. Bleh, who would write such compliments of them

bp.
bp.

@Nonstopdrivel I don't experience many problems.  Now and then it gets constipated, but a refresh does the trick.

bp.
bp.

@robertj72 It worked more smoothly in its prior format.

robertj72
robertj72

Except for the Panthers games, I never really root for a team...only against the team I dislike more...whether it be to prove my pick right or because they are scum (Dumping Landry was crappiest move in NFL history!!) or because their fans are tool (Looking at you NOR sans Reggie)...I get in full on hater mode!

bp.
bp.

@robertj72 NOpe.  Whole different thing.  As LKP said, only if it somehow helps you.

robertj72
robertj72

@LionskillPack Don't worry the compliments are empty...I'm not sure losing Harvein is a Plus nor that Ponder can utilize Jennings even if he returns to form.

robertj72
robertj72

@___bp___ @robertj72 It is multiple issues that I experience and reloading doesn't help

1. Doesn't show reply comments..the - sign will let you close some but doesn't reveal many you KNOW are still there.

2. Doesn't refresh your page for long periods then 50 at once.

3. Why does it let you edit only once?

4. Is showing a scrambled and redundant like.

And I am guessing there are others I forget right now.

bp.
bp.

@LionskillPack @___bp___ Nah.  The relationship of Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam sums it up nicely.  The Lions are basically like a dude with really bad short-man syndrome.

G & G
G & G moderator

@jwoude23 Bear Down

I respect The Bears

I hate The Vikings

The Lions under Jim Schwartz are just a bunch of clowns

LKP
LKP

@___bp___ @robertj72 I hope the losses are blowouts too. I don't care if it makes a boring game, I want Packers, Vikings, Bears to lose by as many points possible.

LKP
LKP

@robertj72 @LionskillPack I hope you are right actually. We shall see Jennings has talent and they snatched him away from the Packers. That pleased me

bp.
bp.

@LionskillPack @___bp___ 6 years, 37.5 for Hawk and 5 year, 68 million for Lions (with 40M guaranteed).


I am sure if I looked we'd find Calvin made substantially more than his counterpart too.

bp.
bp.

@LionskillPack @___bp___ Well, I don't think anyone can reasonably say that the result is the same, though we should give man breasts some time.  And again, the Lions were put in a tougher spot.  How did Suh's deal compare to Hawk's?  Also, Hawk went 5th.

LKP
LKP

@___bp___ @LionskillPack Lions had one  muchhigher pick. The 2009 pick compared to the 2005 pick. But the both resulted in the same, franchise QB with even more luck in Thompsons favor.

LKP
LKP

@___bp___ @LionskillPack He did but it's based on another GMS record. Both in their first years luckuly got a franchise QB. Thompson even got him at a much much much better price. That's even luckier than using the 1st pick and a huge chunk of money.

LKP
LKP

You were 4th, Lions were 2nd after each GMS first year

You were 16th, Lions were 13th

You were 30th and a perfect spot to trade back and Lions were 23rd

And you were 9th and Lions are 5th.

Really similar and both got franchise QBs based on other GMs records in year 1. 1st pick compared 21st pick after Rodgers dropped luckily like a rock. And Thompson tried to trade out of the pick

bp.
bp.

@LionskillPack @___bp___ and yeah, GB wasn't this broken to begin with.  None of which means that Mayhew has done poorly, just that, as I said, you guys are in a tougher spot.

bp.
bp.

@LionskillPack @___bp___ The difference here is that GB's first round picks were lower in draft position, which especially as to the two QB's made a big difference in initial contract...

LKP
LKP

@___bp___ @LionskillPack Mayhew also had a tougher starting job than Thompson who inherited a 3 year in a row playoff team and Thompson took them to one playoff appearance in 4 years just like Mayhew has done

LKP
LKP

@___bp___ @LionskillPack And the CBA has limited incredible spending but the Lions have managed it beautifully doing what they wanted in 2010/2011/2012 and 2013 and once they extend Stafford/Suh that great management will be extraordinary cap management

LKP
LKP

@___bp___ @LionskillPack Thompson had 2 top 10 picks too just like Mayhew based on their records. Both got their QB in the first year thanks to another GMs record. Mayhew was handed the first pick and Thompson was handed Rodgers and lukcy for Thompson nobody called to trade down like he wanted

bp.
bp.

@LionskillPack You guys are in a tougher spot.  Those first round picks gave you some great talent (please note my Face of Begrudgingness), but the old CBA has made life hard.

LKP
LKP

It's amazing how Thompsons and Mayhews first four years are so similar. Hopefully the next 4 for Mayhew are like Thompsons last 4

LKP
LKP

@Green And Gold  @jwoude23 Bear Down I like good competition and there will be but I like seeing the Packers lose talent too especially to rival teams. Especially with how much they gloated over Jennnings for years

LKP
LKP

@Green And Gold  @LionskillPack You can't be butt hurt and happy at the same time. Well maybe Packer fans can but that's not my style at least. I like the ladies