Friday, March 16, 2012

The Vikings Weekly Wrap – March 16 edition

Where Kick Ass Blog discusses some of the more relevant stories that broke this week when it comes to the Vikings.

Free Agency – Week One

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 4-12 and lost their last 10 games in 2011. The Washington Redskins went 5-11 and were one of only three teams the Minnesota Vikings beat last season.

So these clubs are clearly just as sad sack as the Vikings, yet the Bucs and the 'Skins have taken very different approaches to free agency than the Vikes have. And Minnesota's approach has been to sit out the bidding wars on the big name free agents and wait for bargains – if there are any left.

We've been told the Vikings are wise to employ this strategy in 2012. They need to get younger and there's no point in spending big bucks on a player or two who won't put them over the top and could cause salary cap ramifications in a year or two. But obviously Tampa Bay and Washington have their own views on how to build a team.

John Carlson

Pacifist Viking has already given you his opinion on the signing of tight end John Carlson. For now, I rate it as just "OK".

After Carlson signed with the Vikes, I posted on Twitter that a Carlson and Kyle Rudolph tight end tandem could be a poor man's version of New England's Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Hernandez and Gronkowski caught a combined 169 passes last season. If Carlson and Rudolph catch 80-100 in 2012, this will have been a good, underrated signing by Minnesota GM Rick Speilman.

Chris Cook

What was the best development for the Vikings during the first week of free agency? A Minneapolis jury found cornerback Chris Cook not guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

Now the Vikings are going to give Cook another chance. That's good for a terrible Vikings secondary because for a guy with more arrests (two) than interceptions (zero) in his two NFL seasons, Cook's got a chance to be a very good corner.

My lasting memory of Cook's abbreviated 2011 season was a diving pass breakup late in the fourth quarter that stopped a sure TD catch by Detroit's Calvin Johnson. Cook critics will point out he gave up a 32-yard touchdown catch to Johnson earlier in the game that kick-started the Lions comeback from 20 points down. But Cook lost (barely) a jump ball to a guy named Megatron on that play. There's no shame in that. Johnson did that to plenty of corners in 2011.

So Cook's pass breakup is what I remember. Besides the departed Cedric Griffin's gorgeous diving interception in the season finale against the Bears, I didn't see a Vikes DB make a better play on a pass all season long (and that's sad, folks).

Cook's return has a dramatic effect on the Vikings cornerback depth. Stick him at one corner, Antoine Winfield at the other and draft – as expected – a corner early (it doesn't look like they're doing much to address the position in free agency), and that pushes Asher Allen out of a starting role and into a dime back situation. And it pushes Marcus Sherels out of the dime role and back to solely returning punts and kickoffs.

It's not a Pro Bowl secondary. However, with Cook back, he makes it a much better group than what the Vikings ran out there much of last year.

Draft Trade

Sports Illustrated's Peter King (via the Daily Norseman) speculated on Twitter this week that the Vikings might still find some team willing to offer them mucho draft picks to trade out of the #3 over draft slot.

This seems wishful thinking, especially with the Miami Dolphins – the trading partner King cited in his tweet – hoping to sign Green Bay free agent quarterback Matt Flynn on the weekend.

That's okay. I want the Vikings to draft USC left tackle Matt Kalil. But some days I also want them to trade out of #3 and get extra draft picks. I'm conflicted, I guess. This is the kind of crackling analysis you come here for.

Randy Moss is a 49er

I didn't think this decision was a great one by Ol' 84. But if Peyton Manning joins the team, that changes things.

Moss said all the right things in his introductory press conference this week after catching on with San Francisco. But he always says the right things when he lands with a new team, and it always ends badly.

I want Moss to do well, I really do. I still cheer for him. If the 49ers can convince Manning to sign with them, Moss has a fighter's chance to be able to prove to everyone that he's not done at 35.

Stadium Stuff

I have lost any remaining faith I had in Minnesota state politicians to move on a Vikings stadium funding bill.

I would like this to be over, please.

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  1. I'm glad Cook is good to go, and here's to a healthy year from Winfield. Even so - that couple makes me nervous. Rd 2 seems like a good time to draft a CB.

    I like that the LB talent is still out there. I'm hoping the Vikings can land someone good for a deal. How's that for crackling analysis?

    Looks like Miami missed out on Flynn. Round 1 of the draft could be extra suspenseful.

    I'm over Moss. For now.

    1. Peter:

      Manning's signing with Denver could also impact the Vikings draft because the 49ers didn't get him, so they will be looking to resign Alex Smith, who could have gone to Miami otherwise. I guess he still could, he's a free agent, but the 49ers will be more inclined to sign Smith now.

    2. If Smith is very stupid, he'll go to Miami. I think he knows the 49ers are his best shot to win, and he's theirs this year, too.

      Miami remains QB-less for now. And there's very little out in FA. Brian Hoyer? Josh Johnson? Probably should've picked Brees over Culpepper all of those years ago, hmm?

    3. What's worse, that the Dolphins picked Culpepper over Brees or that the Vikings picked Brad Johnson over Brees?

  2. I'm tempted to say that Brees might've actually struggled in Miami, but N.O. was pretty bad when he went there, so maybe that's foolish thinking.

    Brees would've been very, VERY nice to have as a Viking. I try not to think about MN missing out on him. Or the fact that he fell to round 2 of the draft. The Chargers did pretty well that year.