Vikings Look to Build on Suprising 2012 Finish
After an active first few days it appears that the NFL's free agency period has finally hit a lull, unless you count the New York Jets, who have been comatose from the get-go. Though there have been plenty of "active" teams this past week including Miami, Seattle, and New England, to name a few, perhaps no team has had a more interesting collection of moves than the Minnesota Vikings.
All discussions about the Vikings free agent activity have to start with the trade of star wide receiver (and non-free agent) Percy Harvin to the Seahawks for a first round pick this year (25th overall) a 7th round pick this year, and a 3rd round pick in 2014. Harvin, an electrifying player and perennial migraine sufferer, was arguably the second most valuable player on the Vikings. Over the past several days this trade has been dissected more than the Zapruder film. The bottom line is this though, Minnesota had a disgruntled and highly-volatile player who wanted out. Keeping him would have most likely been a disaster on some scale. They were probably lucky to get all that they did in return. Also, if you're going to pony up big bucks and multiple years to a player like Harvin, can you really afford to keep him as a return man, which is a big part of his game?
So, anyway, the Vikes found themselves with three additional draft picks and an even bigger hole at receiver. On top of which they made the difficult decision to cut popular cornerback Antoine Winfield. The 35-year-old Winfield has been slowed a bit by injuries and was scheduled to make around $7 million in 2013, so Minnesota had no choice really. Though Winfield really doesn't have the cover skills anymore to be considered a top flight corner, he is still an incredibly smart player and one of the surest tacklers in the league. The good news is, the Vikings would still like to bring Winfield back at a more sensible price. Hopefully they can get that done.
Some of the money freed up by the Winfield cut was used to bring back important pieces like humongous right tackle Phil Loadholt and battering ram fullback Jerome Felton, two guys who played a huge part in Adrian Peterson's success last season. Then the fun started. Former Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was signed to back up, or maybe challenge, Vike's incumbent signal caller Christian Ponder. Um... ok. Then Greg Jennings was lured away from the Packers for a suprisingly lucrative 5-year, $47.5 million contract with $18 Million guaranteed. Whoa! That kinda offer only seems sane when compared to what the Dolphins heaped upon Mike Wallace. Still, Jennings does give the Vikes a viable threat and one who is certainly familiar with the division.
The Vikings will most likely try to pick up additional wideout help in the draft. In the meantime, there are probably still some free agent bargains on the market they may want to take a look at. Aside from perhaps bringing Winfield back, they may try to kick the tires on one of the many available veteran pass rushers. Seattle has already landed Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett for a combined song, but names like John Abraham, Osi Umenyiora, and maybe even Elvis Dumervil remain. Hell, Dwight Freeney you could probably have for one year, a couple of mill, and a free steak dinner... if he doesn't take the same with the Pats.
It's early yet. The draft is around the corner. Minnesota looks to be in pretty good shape. Hell, the Arizona Cardinals are probably kicking themselves for not signing Matt Cassel. OK, maybe not.