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Additional Minnesota Viking Commentary

Covet versus Looking at Cards
The end is near, Rick Spielman ... that is of course if it is true that we are creatures of habit and that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.  In the book of +/-, Spielman has a string of major gaffs directly attached to his name ... with his climb to absolute power ... subtracting Mark & The Zig Master.  So with all these major failures, one might be wondering exactly how Rick Spielman has survived and why he just might have a future in Minnesota.

The reason for Spielman's survival is in understanding that we all make mistakes, but more importantly, Mark & Ziggy have to allowed the absolute power of this position to be able to make major mistakes (Greg Jennings Contract ... Christian Ponder).  You're just not allowed to repeat these monumental mistakes ... no matter who you might be able to blame ... where the rope and the tightening noose are clearly apparent.  The only question is, has Mark & Ziggy selected the right individual that can learn from his mistakes and have the versatility to adapt.

With the pending 2014 salary cap, it is apparent that this franchise has the ability to keep any free agent that it so chooses.  For Rick to succeed he must change course and invest inward in his core ... and leave the high priced free agents ... with all their foibles ... at the door.  

As a creature of habit, Spielman has been talked into coveting players like Greg Jennings, and most recently Josh Freeman, paying exsorbitent sums to get a free agent that can easily be nullified by the top 12 teams that will qualify for the commissioners playoff tournament. On the other hand, he could have over paid, slightly above market rates, for his own free agents like he did when he resigned Phil Loadholt.  If Rick has learned anything at all, he should now clearly see that he should be signing his own versatile free agents, along with solid-value-underutilized-versatile 5th year free agents to solidify his team.  He has the cap space where he can dominate this position.  High priced free agents are a complete waste of this franchises resources as the team needs can be solidified in other ways.  History is now indicating that Rick Spielman has learned this valuable lesson as the Sea Hawks are now laced with Percy Harvin's heavily laced contract ... along with everything that has gone along with it ... while securing valuable draft picks for our franchise.  Spreading the wealth internally... is a motivational carrot ... that is invaluable to both the integrity and the continuity of the teams directives.  Greg Jennings is nothing more than a petulant move ... a knee jerk reaction ... with long term ... long lasting effects, within our division.  As a business ... no one has a personal problem with Jennings ... its the hog-tied contract containing all those franchise assets.

To go along with Spielman's gaffs, he has also acted decisively, which has rewarded the Zig Master in a long term way.  For example, when he played the Brown's in a recent draft, which coveted Trent Richardson, Rick benefited immensely by playing Tampa Bay off Cleveland where the Browns paid a high ransom just to move up one spot in the draft.  That victory has now made it possible for Rick to drop out of this years 8th pick, if he so chooses, and if the quarterbacks drop as expected, Rick should clearly drop the sledge hammer on this years 9th, 10th and 11th pick.  When Rick stated that he was looking for 10 picks this year, he wasn't thinking about 7th-rounders and he really doesn't have a choice, as indicated below.  Rick clearly needs to fill allot of roster spots.  The 8th pick is clearly on the block as there is a definite blue chip talent available at 8 that does not fit our future scheme and old Rick's days of reaching for QB's are over.  Keep in mind that there will be a significant price paid within the draft when three (3) quarterbacks fall prior to that 8th pick that will absolutely unhinge the the middle round of the draft as there is a significant reason to covet one particular player in that order.  Last year, we paid a large ransom to the Patriots to select Cordarrel Patterson.  I know, not a bad move as he has a great deal of promise, but that move helped the Patriots make the playoffs as it infused that team with a great deal of young talent.  Just look at how the Browns are loudly announcing their intentions in the direction of Johnny Football in the hopes of misdirecting their true intentions as way too many experts believe that Manzeil is a project, one step away from Teebowing, as he could be a major risk to any team that selects him early in the draft. 

What Mr. Spielman needs to learn and focus on, to survive the perils of this league, is to put less and less into the big home run in free agency, and focus more and more on what it is that coaches do.  Player invest heavily into power and skill development whereas coaches invest huge sums of time trying to dissect weaknesses that they can exploit.  In short, what good is Cordarrel Patterson or Greg Jennings, for that matter, if your team has glaring holes to exploit just about everywhere.  In other words, it's better to spread around the cap, overpaying for core & depth rather than investing in a home run hitter that was someone else's problem to begin with.  In other words, high priced free agents, more times than not, will always be a mistake.  Keep in mind that Reggie White ended up in Green Bay because that where God wanted him to be (Jared Allen was a trade ... Hutchinson was a poison pill). 

With this stated our money should be heavily invested in core players with versatility.  In the scheme of things Everson Griffen, Toby Gerhart and Joe Webb are as versatile as any players throughout the league and each will prove to be solid values.  These three players should be signed well before considering a player like Jared Allen or even Kevin Williams as they represent Absolute Value ... price in relation to goods and services.

As for the draft, it is clear that the Vikings cannot afford to covet any quarterback in the first round.  If you had that intention then you should of continued with Christian Ponder throughout the 2013 season.  Instead you invested in Matt Cassel ... the right move ... turning the keys over to him for 2014, only to have it thrown in your face.  No problem.  Good luck finding a starting spot with a similar upside that this franchise had laid at your feet.  In fact, an open offer at 85% of what either Matt turned down ... or what you may have offered in a back room deal... should now be publicly offered in response ... as the grass is never greener.  It's called ... crawling through the supplicant door as he has no intention of playing anywhere other than in Minnesota in 2014.  There has to be a real cost for listening to an agent that has a one track mind and that doesn't truly give a lick about his client.  Just sit back and relax as there is a future contract available for Matt in 2015 ... that is if he builds on 2013 Viking resume.  Keep in mind that contracts are not always bid upward because Matt ... we care ... but not that much.  Just because you can't see or even imagine our opening day quarterback without you doesn't mean that he's not real and will be ready to roll this machine. 

Here's the rub.  No matter what he says.  No matter how hard he pounds his feet to covet and move up in the draft.  Norv Turner can be relied upon to find his pure passing threat nonetheless without making this move.  He'll do it by looking at cards.  What I'm talking about is playing 7 card stud ... where this franchise will get to look at 9 solid cards where most will only gets to look at 7 or less ... that trail off.  Don't be afraid to draft more than one quarterback.

As for the interest in Sam Bradford, I'd trade Ponder for Bradford straight up, offering a 1 year 5 million dollar contract.  Anything beyond that offer would require a brain scan.   

Allow me to explain why the above 3 are so important to sign to long term contracts.  For too long we've been ignoring the 10% rule where you must replace or upgrade the bottom 10% of your roster.  Instead, we've had too many of the upper 10% pilfered from our roster.  Here's the list of players that either will not or should not be apart of our 53 man roster come opening day in 2014:

Jared Allen:  Free Agent.  Love to have apart of the roster.  Too expensive to solidify a complete roster.  Transition
Matt Asiata: Cut!  
Jeff Baca: Transition 2013 Draft, FA 2017.  
Chase Baker: Transition. FA 2015.
Joe Banyard: Cut! FA 2015.
Joe Berger: Free Agent. Transition.  Demonstrated enough for 1 year contract (exploration).  
Brandon Bishop: Transition. FA 2016
Desmond Bishop: Free Agent. Cut!
Robert Blanton: 2012 Draft.  Solid & Reliable.  FA 2016
John Carlson: Cut!  Absolutely love his play and dedication but concussion & injury history is too great a risk as his role must be 16 game reliable. FA 2017. Another high priced Spielman Gaff that's tightening his rope.
Matt Cassel:  Free Agent. Minnesota's opening day starter and beyond if he can remove head from sphincter.
Greg Childs: 2012 draft. Transition. FA 2016.  Major Spielman Gaff if he can't make the roster.
Audie Cole: 2012 draft. Starter. Still need to see it play out 50/50.  FA 2016.  
Chris Cook: Free Agent. Transition. 2 year deal 2 times league minimum max.
Larry Dean: Cut!
Kip Edwards: Transition. FA 2016
Rhett Ellison: 2012 draft. Solid all around athlete.  FA 2016
Fred Evans: Free Agent. Transition
Jerome Felton: Starter, solid.  AD's pacifier. FA 2017.
Sharrif Floyd: 2013 draft pick.  Starter,  Cannot yet be relied upon to fill Kevin Williams shoes based upon last years development. FA 2017
Chase Ford: Solid replacement for Carlson.  FA 2015.
Josh Freeman: Free Agent.  Cut!  
Brandon Fusco:  Transition.  FA 2015  
Toby Gerhart: Free Agent. Resign to long term contract and pay premium to retain him.  Versatile player.  
Chad Greenway: Starter. FA 2016
Everson Griffen: Free Agent.  Resign to long term contract and pay premium to retain him. Versatile player.
Letroy Guion: Transition. FA 2015.  
Gerald Hodges: 2013 Draft Pick. Transition.  Not enough film on defensive. FA 2017.
Greg Jennings: Overpaid. Completely wasted organizations resources.  Spielman's proverbial rope. FA 2018
Charlie Johnson: Free Agent. Cut!  
Kamar Jordan: Transition. FA2016.
Matt Kalil: 2012 Draft Pick.  Starter. FA 2016
Zach Line: Undrafted.  Keeper with unknown upside. FA 2016.  Possible diamond in ruff by Spielman.
Phil Loadholt: Starter. FA 2017
Jeff Locke: 2013 draft pick.  Special Teams starter.  FA 2017.
Cullen Loeffler:  FA 2015.  Getting long in tooth. 
Michael Mauti: 2013 Draft.  Transition. Not enough film on defense. FA 2017
Marvin Mitchel: Free Agent. Cut!. 
Kevin Murhy: Transition. FA 2016
Spencer Nealy: Transition. FA 2016
Seth Olsen: Free Agent.  Transition
Cordarrell Patterson: 2013 draft pick.  Blue Chip that should have been rookie of the year if pressed into service earlier. FA 2017
Adrian Peterson:  Please! FA 2018
Christian Ponder:  2011 draft pick.  Cut or trade for Bradford offering 1 year deal.  FA 2015
Shaun Prater: Transition.  Showed promise. FA 2016.  Great move by Spielman.  Low guaranteed money.  
Keeston Randall: Unknown. Transition. FA 2016.
Bradley Randle: Unknown. Transition, FA 2016
Mistral Raymond: 2011 draft pick.  Cut! FA 2015.
Mike Remmers: Transition. FA 2015.
Xavier Rhodes: 2013 draft pick.  Blue Chipper. FA 2017
Josh Robinson: 2012 draft pick. Transition.  AKA toast!  Struggled mightily last year.  Leaning toward roster spot as DB's known for rebounding. FA 2016.
Brian Robison: Starter. FA 2018
Kyle Rudolph: 2011 draft pick.  Blue Chip prospect.  Immediately start negotiations on long term deal. FA 2015
Simoni Lawrence:  Transition. Low cost flyer.  FA 2017.
Josh Smuda: Transition. FA 2015.
Jamarca Sanford: Cut! FA 2015.
Andrew Sendejo: Starter.  Offer low cost FA 2016.  Great Move by Spielman w/low guaranteed money.
Marcus Sherels:  Free Agent. Cut!  Absolute defensive liability.  Anyone can return punts ... all special teams weakened by new rules.   
Jerome Simpson:  Free Agent.  Offer 2 year deal & pay above average premium.  Reward his progress with organizational confidence.  Look beyond what will be his last violation.  Most likely played his last game for the Vikings as there are only so many chances an organization can extend.   
Harrison Smith: 2012 draft pick.  Blue Chip player. FA 2016.
Rodney Smith:  Low cost flyer.  Good size ... would love to see him have a breakout year. FA 2016
Robert Steeples: Status unknown. Transition.   
John Sullivan: Starter. FA 2017
Adam Thielen: Cut!  Practice Squad. FA 2016
Justin Trattou: Status Unknown.  Transition.  FA 2015
Blair Walsh: 2012 draft pick.  Special Teams starter. FA 2016.
J'Marcus Webb: Free Agent.  Cut!
Joe Webb: Free Agent. Resign to long term contract and pay premium to retain him. Clearly the most versatile player on this squad.  TD's follow his play.
Kevin Williams: Free Agent.  Resign to 2 year deal if available.  Do not low ball offer.  Perennial center plug that cannot be easily replaced.
Jarius Wright: 2012 draft pick.  Transition.  Open field threat.  Red zone liability.  FA 2016

Keep in mind that when considering the word Transition next to a name we may have no information on that particular player.  If they'd played for this team and the word Transition appears next to their name, then they'd most certainly be apart of that lower 10% that were supposed to be transitioned off our roster.  In fact if every transition player on this list were not apart of the opening day 53 man roster, it wouldn't surprised anyone.  They all represent a glaring weakness to this organization in one way or another.  If you add these Transition Players, with free agents, and players that should be cut then it is clear that this organization is in major need of it's prime versitile 2010 draft picks.

Having Toby Gerhart and Joe Webb fall to Jim Harbaugh as free agents is an absolute disgrace, hoping to get a compensatory pick of a 4th or 5th rounder in return for Gerhart. Adding these two players alone will guarantee the 49ers their 6th Super Bowl championship.  There is no way Seattle will pass on Everson Griffen, if he's available as a free agent.  Everson Griffen's versatility, as a USC product, is well known to Pete Carrol who wouldn't hesitate to add this specimen in a heart beat.

The Viking Ghost Writer
February 20, 2014