On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings traded wide receiver Percy Harvin and, I don't know man, my world just kind of exploded. We're really doing this? We're trading one of the top players in the NFL, a known commodity, for "potential"? For draft picks? For a bunch of rookie players that we think are going to step into starting roles and not miss a beat? What the hell, man? Did Percy roll you a blunt before he left? That's the only explanation for why you're not ice scooping your eyes out right now. Oh, but that wasn't it!
Then they decided AJ Jefferson or Marcus Sherels was cool enough to hold down cornerback, so they released Antoine Winfield. That was also amazingly the same moment when I died a little bit on the inside, never learning to love again. They also re-signed Jerome Simpson for some odd reason, were able to nab Phil Loadholt and his mountain size, Jerome Felton the Bulldozer, Erin Henderson, and on, and on, and on ... I can barely even think right now.
But that's fine, because maybe we're not supposed to understand everything perfectly. And if we need to try, that's where we now chime in and explain to you what all of these moves mean through popular internet memes. Hopefully by the end of this, we'll get a better understanding of what the Vikings are trying to do. But probably not, LOL!
Hit the jump to begin the enlightenment:
If you were a big Percy Harvin fan, you may be experiencing feelings of broken trust, as Percy was supposed to be the next great Minnesota Vikings wide receiver like Randy Moss or Cris Carter. Instead, he ditched us for a state that sells weed. These feelings are normal:
After the Harvin trade, you may have also turned to your closet and noticed that you're all of a sudden down one more authentic Vikings jersey, because you just HAD to invest in that fresh looking #12. Don't worry, others feel your pain:
But hey, this had to lead to something bigger, right? Like, something CRAZY! Maybe we got that extra first round draft pick so we could turn it around and go bonkers, right?! Like trade for Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., right??!!!
No, not right. Stop being silly. And instead things just got worse. You were alerted that to free up some more cap space the Vikings had released your one-time true love and one of the greatest Vikings of all time in Antoine Winfield. You probably then looked at the Vikings defensive backfield depth chart and thought to yourself the following, which you would have been totally justified in thinking:
But then free agency started. Hurray! The Vikings are going to sign all the players!
Except that's not how this works, is it?
No, of course not. Vikings GM Rick Spielman instead played things close to the vest. He started by signing Jerome Simpson to a one year deal, acting thus far as their big wide receiver free agent splash. You probably were less than impressed, correct?
That's OK. They followed it up with re-signing of Phil Loadholt, which was kind of a big deal. Bringing him back helped solidify the offensive line for years to come, even if the price tag ended up being a bit high. But, hey, I can deal with it:
From there though, the rest of the day was a blur. As mentioned, players like Jerome Felton, and Erin Henderson were also signed back to the team, while the window was actually left open for Winfield to also return at a lesser amount, which obviously isn't going to happen. And while we're all sitting here thinking that maybe Greg Jennings also wants to sign with us, I think we can also say that likely won't happen and that you'll get upset again and, hey, that's OK, man. No worries. I'm sure you have it all figured out:
So there's your first day of NFL free agency for the Vikings. Probably doesn't feel to good, but forced entry rarely is an enjoyable experience. Just sit back and take it.
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@PJDiaries I fuckin love this blog! Those memes fuckin summed it up! OHYOURGOD those shits worked!
I'm going to preface this by saying that I subscribe whole-heartedly in the Bill Bramwell theory of buidling a roster. Hee takes a "Moneyball" style look at it, and thinks that in free agency you look for deals on mid-range and low-cost players who won't hurt you that much if they don't work out, but have medium-range upside if they end up being good (e.g., they can upgrade a position with a terrible player to average or above-average). It doesn't sound sexy, but it's how free agency can work for you (instead of saddling you with huge contracts down the road that you regret, like the Cowboys, Redskins, Giants, and Raiders all seem to be suffering from)
But, I think Speilman is kind of killing it so far. Although a lot of things look bad on the surface, I think they make a lot of sense (so pull up a chair Mr. Wonka):
1. The Harvin Trade - as I said yesterday, we all know we were going to lose Harvin some day anyway, and most likely it was going to be this season anyway, as Harvin was going to holdout if we didn't restructure his contract. Since he was being an unreasonable little bitch, I didn't think restructuring (at least not for the money Seattle ended up paying). That means we either had to throw this season away, Harvin-wise, or try to get some value. And damn did we get some value. I know you hate trading a "proven commodity" for the "potential" of draft picks... but I have two responses to that (a) there is no guarantee that Harvin would continue with his same production (and now that he's gotten paid, he could easily phone it in the rest of his career), and (b) after the new CBA, draft picks are worth their weight in gold (especially in the first round). Spielman has actually shown he is a pretty good drafter, so let's see what he can do with those picks. If two of the three picks we got from Seattle turn out to be solid players, this will be a monumentally good trade for us, regardless of how well Percy does in Seattle.
2. The Jerome Simpson signing - OK, he sucks as a receiver. But we're paying him next to nothing, and he has all the motivation in the world to prove himself. If he can actually learn to run routes at all, he could actually be a dangerous weapon.
3. The Winfield cut - I love Winfiled. But he was getting cut or restructured no matter what. I forget what the number was, but his cap hit this year was just too huge. I think it's weird that we didn't even try to restructure before cutting him, and that after all his years here we didn't at least give him a heads up, but this is a business, and sometimes it sucks.
The only "mistakes' I've really seen so far have more to do with execution than the actual decision. Like I think we overpaid a bit for Loadholdt. Maybe we really did need to do so to keep Chicago out of the picture, but I somehow doubt it. That being said, I'd rather overpay a "bit" for a player that is clearly a great fit for our team (a massive and very good run blocking RT to pave the way for Purple Jesus). The only other error I see is how the Winfield situation was handled (again, not that we cut him, but how we didn't really try to negotiate or even let him know ahead of time that it was a possibility). Resigning Felton was huge, and Henderson is a decent LB that we didn't overpay for. I'm OK with that.
@Lakeville Mikey I actually agree with like all of these takes.
My problem with the Harvin trade is that we're still now looking for a #1 receiver, someone that - let's say we draft and then want to keep for many years - we're still going to overpay for them at some point. Why not just overpay for Harvin? I think money would have kept him happy, at least somewhat. He did go bitchy, so maybe not, maybe it was a no-win, but we're certainly worse with him off the roster. Draft picks are great, and Spielman has been surprisingly not stupid at drafting so far, but does that last? Hope so.
The other piece with the NFL is that a guy you overpay for is only overpaid for about a year. Next year, Loadholt will probably be only top 10 in highest paid right tackles or some shit. Contract inflation is outrageous in the NFL. Spielman's idea of signing guys who are good who know your system, and maybe overpaying a bit for them, doesn't sound stupid actually.
I like the Moneyball theory in theory as well, but in practice there still are several hits and misses, and chances of remaining mediocre while enjoying "salary cap flexibility" which does nothing for anyone.
@PJD @Lakeville Mikey Winnie only had 1 year left. We cut him seemingly without asking any other high cap player to restructure (J. Allen has a 17 mil cap hit) or evening cutting Williams in Winnie's stead. Winnie IS our secondary. Cook has missed more games than he has played (26 missed against 23 played and the 23 counts 1 playoff game). The other 2 are way to raw to leave in the secondary alone with the likes of A. Rod and Megatraon in our division. And what have we done with the money we saved from cutting Winnie? re-signed someone we should have resigned before his $$ got inflated with the Bears looking to steal him. That was OUR fault. If we would have resigned Loadholt from the get go, the Bears wouldn't have run up his price, causing us to "need" to cut Winnie. Now, we loose our Best DB, and we still have yet to fill his hole. We are going to end up spending MORE to get a player that isn't as good as Winnie. Sure he may be 36, but he plays LIGHTS OUT. We are trying to seem like we are playing smart with our money, but in all honesty, we are blowing it big time. We have 11 draft picks, and about 8 positions that need filled or just plain upgraded. If all 11 of those draft picks were in the first 2 rounds, I'd say heck yes, let's build through the draft, but they aren't. So we are only going to get maybe 3 starting calibur players, leaving us with 5 holes and positions that need to be upgraded. We were lucky to make it to the playoffs ( and a BIG part of that was Winnie playing with a broken freaking hand. ) We are now a worse team than we were even when CP7 was during his slump. We have too many needs now as a result of our cutting players for cap space that we aren't even going to use. It is just ridiculous.
@Lakeville Mikey @mrsamk @PJD I'm pretty sure ASO was getting15 mil. this year and 12 Mil each of the next 2 years.... which is a heck of a lot more than Winnie, for somebody who isn't a leader, isn't comfortable with our defense and somebody who isn't nearly as good as Winnie. PLUS Aso is only 4 years younger... come on man. If we aren't willing to pay 7.2 mil for one of our own guys, we sure as heck won't pay the insane amount of money Aso is after. And sure there were several decent and younger replacements for Winnie, but many of them have been signed.
As for Cook, he might be a good cover corner, but in our division, we need better than that. We need a SHUT DOWN corner and that is NOT Cook. Not by a long shot.
I know RS will turn our 6 picks in the first 4 rounds into something. But those 6 picks still are 2 less than the 8 (at least) we need.
1. I completely agree that we should have gotten out front with our resigning of Loadholdt earlier... but its a myth to think that had we done that, we could somehow have saved enough money to keep Winfield at his current cap number.
2. And even if we could have, Winfield's cap hit was too big. There is no way he's going to get the same amount of money from the team he signs with next (which I hope is us, although I'm doubtful). Like I said originally, there was just no way Winfield was going to be playing under the same cap number this season. I would have preferred that the Vikings restructured his contract, but they decided the long-term success of the team would be better served by cutting him, which I can't say is right or wrong.
3. I can say with utmost confidence that we are NOT going to be "spendign MORE to get a player that isn't as good as Winnie." First, we could end up resigning Winfield tomorrow for half of what his cap hit would have been (which is still probably above market value for him, but is certainly LESS than we would have been paying). Second, we could end up getting Nnamdi (cut from the Eagles) who, despite his nightmarish couple of seasons in Philly, is a very good CB who is (a) better than Winfield (although not a better leader) and (b) younger than Winfield... and Nnamdi could probably also be gotten for less than Winfields cap number. There are probably several other medium-skilled CBs in FA that we just don't know about that can be gotten for cheap and that will upgrade our current secondary (and BTW, Cook is actually a damn good cover corner.... and many of the missed games you cited were either from a freak injury or THE TIME HE WAS IN JAIL for the charge that he ended up beating).
4. Of course we are "worse now" than we were before we traded away Harvin and cut Winfield. BUT, we aren't going to stand pat where we are right now. With Harvin and Winfield gone, we have a lot more cap room to work with to sign some more free agents, which I'm sure we will do to at least upgrade some of those "8 positions that need [to be] filled."
5. As for the draft, Spielman has already done very well in the draft, so I think he has earned the benefit of the doubt. Heck, screwing the Browns out of a mid-round just so they could move up one spot to pick a player we didn't want anyway was a master stroke. And Harrison Smith and Blair Walsh were amazingly astute picks when a lot of people were saying "Huh? A WHITE defensive back from NOTRE DAME and a KICKER? Are you CRAZY?"
@PJD @LakevilleMikey WHY can't we trade for Fitzgerald?!? Seriously, why not? One of the best RBs in the history of the NFL isn't getting any younger. Don't we have to try to win NOW, before its too late? And wouldn't Fitz be one of top 3 best WRs to pair with AP? Goddamn it, I hate wasted seasons of our transcendent players (heres looking at you Glen Taylor...)
Wow... sorry for the wall of text. I didn't realize how long that would be when I started it... and once I was done, I just couldn't let that time go to waste.