I know, screwy idea for a post. But follow me here. Either I’m on to something or I’m on something (© Dan Cole).
It’s actually rather simple if you just connect the dots. We begin in Tennessee. As we speak the Titans are fiercely pursuing Peyton Manning. Why? Because Bud Adams owns the team and he wants Peyton Manning. Bud Adams is 90 and may have no idea what’s going on, but that’s irrelevant. He still knows one thing and that’s how to fire people. So if he wants Peyton, his personnel folks will try their damnedest to land Peyton. Even if the franchise is already set at QB with veteran Matt Hasselbeck and 2011 top 10 draft pick Jake Locker.
Here’s the thing: The original plan for Tennessee, before Bud intervened, was to spend free agent dollars on upgrading the defense. Their #1 target was likely going to be Mario Williams, who is apparently leaving the Houston Texans. But if they sign Peyton they won’t have the dough to pursue Williams. With Tennessee out of the picture, another team has emerged as the clear front runner to land Williams’ services.
And that team is? The Chicago Bears. Yes, Mario Williams and Julius Peppers could both end up on the defensive line for the Bears. That sounds pretty scary, especially if your name is Christian Ponder. But the Bears’ signing of Williams could end up having a silver lining for the Vikings. Still following this? Good.
We’ve finally arrived at the point where the Vikings enter into this scenario. The Vikings as we know are in the market for a wide receiver. Vincent Jackson is the guy most coveted by fans, but he might not be a realistic option given his age and price tag. However, I see a way the Vikings could still be in on Jackson. That’s if the market for him ended up not being as vigorous as previously expected. Fewer bidders means a lower price. A lower price means the Vikings would be more likely to overlook the age issue. And what set of circumstances could lead to Jackson’s market drying up enough for the Vikings to become serious contenders?
How about this set of circumstances: The Bears drop out because they mean to spend big money on Mario Williams. That eliminates one major player. Here’s how you eliminate a second: the Redskins drop out because the league just took away a bunch of their cap space as punishment for certain hanky panky perpetrated during the so-called uncapped year in 2010.
The Redskins are the other important factor in this wildly speculative and highly unrealistic scenario. It’s possible that because of the uncapped year beatdown, which will cost the franchise $36 million in cap space over the next two years, the Redskins will now have to give up their planned pursuit of Vincent Jackson. The Redskins for their part are not ready to throw in the towel. They have indicated that they will fight the NFL’s ruling and for the time being are proceeding as though they have all the cap space previously available.
That’s fine to say, but if you’re Vincent Jackson’s agent, what are you telling him right now? The uncertainty over the Redskins’ cap status would, you would think, significantly hurt the team’s chances of landing a coveted free agent prize like Jackson, who after a couple years of being jerked around by the Chargers just wants to get paid already. You can see where this is going. Cull the Redskins and Bears from the list of teams pursuing Jackson and you only raise the Vikings’ chances of winning the bidding.
There is still however one major factor standing in the way of the Vikings ending up with Jackson: those pesky Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Once upon a time the Bucs kept the Vikings from achieving a 16-0 regular season, and now they could ruin things again by stealing Jackson. The Vikes have a decent amount of cap space but the Bucs are positively filthy with cap space. The Bucs could give V-Jax a massive contract and still have room to sign Cortland Finnegan and probably another fairly big time free agent.
Truth be told, the Bucs probably are the front runners to sign Jackson, perhaps by an insurmountably wide margin. But if you eliminate the Bears and Redskins, it’s just possible that the Vikings are now #2 in that race. A few hours ago they looked no better than #4. This isn’t a discussion about the wisdom of signing Jackson, cause you can still make a very strong case that the Vikings would be dumb to even consider it. This is a post about how, in the wacky, ever-changing world of the NFL, the whims of a possibly senile 90-year-old owner in Tennessee could, if everything falls right, lead to a team in Minnesota landing the legit #1 wide receiver it once looked like they never had a chance of attracting. Isn’t that sort of weirdly beautiful?