Analysis of the Vikings Offseason (so far)

The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a successful season where they finished 1st in the NFC North. Their regular season record was 13-3 and they made it to the NFC Championship game. They ultimately lost to the Philadelphia Eagles but it was a season Vikings fans can be proud of. This is a key offseason in order to get over the hump and win a Super Bowl.

Notable Offseason Additions

The most notable free-agent signing has been Kirk Cousins. Many analysts believe he was one of the top free-agents this offseason. The Vikings made it a priority to get a franchise quarterback. Despite the success that Case Keenum had last season, the Vikings felt that Cousins was too good to pass up. Cousins was previously the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins where he threw for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. The Redskins had moderate success under Cousins but that’s due to the fact that he never had significant talent around him. That’s why this signing is so intriguing. Pairing Cousins up with two elite receivers in Diggs and Thielen, and a talented running back in Dalvin Cook could be exactly what the Vikings need to finally win a Super Bowl.

Depth on the defensive line was also a priority this offseason, specifically at defensive tackle. Outside of Linval Joseph, the Vikings lacked talent on an otherwise elite defensive line. That’s why Zimmer and the Vikings went out and signed Sheldon Richardson.  Richardson was picked by the New York Jets in the first round of the NFL draft.  His rookie year he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He was also a pro-bowler in 2014. Richardson joins pro-bowlers Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen on the defensive line and will be a key contributor to one of the best defenses in the league.

A more under-the-radar acquisition was wide receiver Kendall Wright. Wright was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. He spent last season on the Chicago Bears. He hasn’t been an impactful starter on the Titans and Bears but will be utilized as a solid slot receiver and reliable backup if former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell doesn’t pan out.

Notable Offseason Departures

Case Keenum was one of the biggest names to change teams. He will be the quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2018. The decision to sign Cousins over keeping Keenum was debatable. Many believed that the money we paid Cousins was too much versus keeping Keenum on a smaller, restructured deal. Part of the Vikings rationale for letting Keenum go was that while he had a successful season, it was too small of a sample size to trust him as the starting quarterback for many years.

Noteworthy departures at quarterback included Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. It was expected that Sam Bradford was going to be let go after losing the starting job to Keenum in 2017 due to injury issues. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Teddy Bridgewater, a fan favorite, was a tougher decision. After not playing for the majority of 2017 due to a torn ACL and structural damage in his knee, he appeared to be working towards a full recovery to compete for the starting job in 2018. However, in contract negotiations, he asked for starting quarterback money. With many expiring contracts looming for stars including Anthony Barr and Stefon Diggs in the upcoming season, the Vikings weren’t prepared to give Teddy that kind of money. He signed a one-year $15 million contract with the Jets.

At running back, the Vikings let Jerrick McKinnon go. McKinnon served as a shifty scat-back for the Vikings since 2014. After Dalvin Cook suffered a torn ACL in 2017, McKinnon got a much larger workload splitting time with Latavius Murray. Both Murray and McKinnon impressed in Cook’s absence. The decision to not resign McKinnon was a financial decision. He wanted to be paid like a starter and he wasn’t going to be paid or utilized as a starter in Minnesota. He signed a 4-year $36.9 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

What’s next?

Overall the Vikings have been very smart with their money. They had to sign Cousins to a large contract (3 years $84 million) because that’s where the market is for a quarterback with a proven track record. The decision to let Keenum, McKinnon, Bridgewater, and Bradford go helped make the Cousins deal possible. These moves also made it possible to re-sign important players to long-term deals including Eric Kendricks.

After all the offseason moves the Vikings still have $15.7 million in cap space. They should use that money and the draft to bolster offensive line depth, add competition at wide-receiver, and bring in a cornerback to compete with Trae Waynes.

The future is bright in Minnesota. There’s still time to join the bandwagon. Skol.

 

 

 

The Road to my Vikings Obsession

How I Became a Vikings Fan

I’ve always been a football fan. It’s in my blood. My great-grandfather played professionally (back in the days of leather helmets and no knowledge of CTE). My dad grew up in Odessa, Texas—home of the Permian Panthers (the school in Friday Night Lights). Growing up in Texas, it was expected that he played and watched football. His favorite team was the Dallas Cowboys. He loved to reminisce about the good ole’ days of Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmit Smith, and Deion Sanders.

This passion for football was passed on to me.

My dad never forced the Dallas Cowboys on me. In fact, when I was younger he would watch football by himself. He probably didn’t want me to see him curse at the TV. I had casually watched football on my own starting with the 2007-2008 NFL season.

*Disclaimer—I was young and naive at the time, so don’t judge my sports allegiance.

The 2007 NFL season was the year the New England Patriots went 18-1. I was intrigued by the dominance of Tom Brady and Randy Moss. This was the first sports team that I consistently followed week to week. Following the disappointing ending to that season, I started watching other teams in the NFL and I began playing Madden. Playing Madden helped me understand who these players were that I was watching on TV. I began developing favorite players, including an exciting rookie at the time by the name of Adrian Peterson. Racking up 150+ yards per game in Madden with this player was very exciting for an 11-year-old boy.

Andy and Chad Greenway

This marks the shift from becoming a casual NFL fan to a Minnesota Vikings fan.

There was a tough stretch when the Vikings seemed destined for mediocrity. But then came the 2009 season. We had just come off another subpar year with Coach Brad Childress and an incapable Tarvaris Jackson. Heading into the offseason before the 2009 season, the Minnesota Vikings made one of the boldest moves in franchise history….they signed Brett Favre out of retirement. If you don’t know, Brett Favre made his career playing for the bad guys (Green Bay Packers). This was the most savage move any player could make.

That 2009 season was my first taste of success as a Vikings fan. That team meshed very well together. Adrian Peterson was a superstar in the making, Percy Harvin was the most electric player in the NFL, Jared Allen was leading the league in sacks, and Brett Favre was cementing his legacy as a future hall of famer. This was a fun team to watch. They finished the regular season at 12-4, first in the NFC North, and beat the Packers in both games. In the Divisional round of the playoffs we crushed Tony Romo and the Cowboys 34-3. That’s when everyone started talking about how this Vikings squad could be Super Bowl contenders.

Following the Divisional round, the Vikings had to travel to play Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game. The game was excruciatingly close through its entirety. With a minute left in regulation the score was tied 28-28. Vikings had the ball deep in Saints territory. It looked like Favre was going to do what he does best—lead another game-winning drive.  Twenty seconds were left on the clock and the Vikings were on the Saints 38 yard-line. Favre rolled out of the pocket (he was facing immense pressure all game). He tried to throw off his back foot into the middle of the field. Tracy Porter, a Saints Defensive Back, read it and intercepted the ball. Saints then got the ball in overtime, drove down the field and kicked a field goal to win the game.

Sadly, this feeling of dissappointment would be one I would become all too familiar with.

The Vikings fell back into their ways of mediocrity during the Christian Ponder era. It wasn’t until we drafted Teddy Bridgewater that we felt a sense of hope. But as the Vikings tend to do, in 2015 they broke my heart again. In the Wildcard round, the Vikings played the Seahawks in a -6 degree game in Minneapolis. It was a very defensive game. With 22 second left, the Seahawks were winning 10-9. Blair Walsh needed to hit a 27-yard field goal to win the game. But as a Vikings fan, we’re not allowed to have happiness. Walsh hooked the kick left. More dissappointment followed.

Our next chance at a Super Bowl would come last season. I’ll get into that in a separate post but it follows the similar theme.

Overall, my path to becoming a Vikings fan was long and difficult. Despite the pain, I’m proud to be a loyal Minnesota Vikings supporter. The community of fans are unique to Minnesota and the players have been influential role models in my life and many others.

Skol.