Things are so quiet on the Vikings speculation front right now that even vague, non-committal comments from Rick Spielman start looking like juicy tidbits. That’s just how it is during the deadest period of the NFL off-season.
Among the slightly intriguing subjects addressed by Spielman when he spoke to reporters today was the franchise tag, and specifically, whether the team plans using it on either Chad Greenway or Sidney Rice.
Not surprisingly, Spielman gave away no team secrets. “We’re going through that process,” he said. “I think you tie that into your whole process, on whether you’re going to utilize that franchise tag or not. But anything from any type of roster moves or franchise tag or anything like that, we’ll probably not buckle up here until another week or two.”
Greenway and Rice are both thought to be deserving of long-term contracts, though the matter is somewhat hazy with Rice who missed much of 2010 with injury and frankly irked a lot of people with some of the things he said and did during the off-season. Franchise tagging Rice instead of giving him the contract he wants could only inflame what has already been a somewhat sensitive situation.
There’s also the whole CBA issue, which when resolved could end up negating the tags, rendering all this speculation utterly moot.
Then there’s the upcoming draft. The Vikings pick 12th overall, but many have discussed the possibility of the team trading that pick to move down in the 1st round and also get back the 3rd rounder Brad Childress gave away in the Randy Moss deal. Spielman added fuel to this argument by confirming that the team is indeed looking at making some kind of deal to recover their squandered 3rd.
A trade-down in the first would almost certainly take the Vikings out of the running for Cam Newton, the quarterback prospect most coveted by fans. Given the numerous holes the Vikings are going to have on the roster after some of their 19 free agents bolt, trading picks to accumulate more picks might be the most sensible course of action.
Whatever happens this year, Spielman has made one thing clear: The Vikings are going to need their draft picks to develop quickly if they hope to contend in 2011.
“We’re going to be a younger team for sure,” Spielman said. “Rookies will be forced into action.”
Will one of these rookies be a quarterback? Stay tuned.