The wide receiver position is a matter of some concern for the Vikings this off-season. Sidney Rice‘s free agent status is up in the air thanks to the lockout, and there’s a very real possibility he could depart. That would leave Percy Harvin as the #1 man with not much behind him, unless Bernard Berrian stays with the team and bounces back big-time from a dismal 2010.
Call me a skeptic but I don’t see Berrian as a viable #2. So if the Vikings lose Rice…big issue at wide receiver.
Rick Spielman is well-aware of this potential problem, as indicated by his comments today. Speaking about the draft, and specifically receiver prospects A.J. Green and Julio Jones, Spielman said, “Potentially if one of those receivers slides down to 12 and Sidney Rice doesn’t return, there are things you can do to fill that need as well.”
So either Spielman admitted the Vikings are looking seriously at receiver, or he is doing more of that smokescreening we keep hearing so much about.
You know what I like most about Draft Day? The smokescreening can finally end.
There’s also the possibility, however distant, that Spielman is being honest, and the Vikings really would consider drafting Jones or Green if they happened to slip to 12. Would this really be a terrible idea? It all depends on how you line up the Vikings’ needs.
Some would argue that wide receiver is not a hugely important need for the Vikings. Not compared to quarterback, defensive line, offensive line or secondary. In that case, drafting a receiver at 12 might seem a bit irresponsible.
But then there’s the other side of the discussion, the ever-popular best player available argument. If either Julio Jones or A.J. Green is there at 12, they will almost certainly be the best player available. Value-wise, it would make sense for the Vikes to snap up either of those guys. Couple this with the fact that they have a genuine if not overpoweringly-pressing need at the position and there’s a genuine argument to make in favor of drafting Jones or Green.
The other question is, how would drafting a WR at 12 affect the Rice negotiations once the lockout ends and teams are actually allowed to talk to their players again? Would the Vikings, with a new young potential stud wide-out in their back pocket, be less willing to give Rice the big contract he desires, and more willing to just let him walk?
The drafting of a Jones or a Green might not necessarily signal the end of Rice’s tenure in Minnesota, but it would be a huge hint about where the Vikings think they are in their negotiations with him. All along I’ve wondered if Rice truly wants to stay in Minnesota at all. It’s possible the Vikings are equally skeptical about the receiver’s commitment to the team.
None of this will matter of course if the new CBA comes down and Rice remains a restricted free agent. The Vikings have tendered him and would be able to match any offer.
At the end of the day, I would personally prefer to see the Vikes look somewhere other than WR. Jones and Green are big-time potential talents but the team has bigger needs. Spielman has said in the past that he prefers the best player available approach, but this time I think he’s playing pre-draft games with the other GMs.
So yes, Jake Locker is still in play, for those of you who become erect every time the name “Jake Locker” is uttered.