Feb 21, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

What the Vikings must do in free agency

The first day of free agency has come to an end, and in typical fashion, things have been less than exciting for Vikings fans.  Well for the most part.  Losing Percy Harvin and Antoine Winfield certainly affects the team a great deal, but you can’t really call either of those things exciting news.  Sure the Vikes have resigned Phil Loadholt, Jamarca Sanford, Jerome Felton, and others (could I care less about Jerome Simpson?) but what fans are looking for in free agency is big name, big time players getting signed to big money deals and coming in as game-changers, not just as another guy at a given position.

This is where the Vikings have never truly delivered.  In the Rick Spielman era the Vikings have gone with the tried and true method of building through the draft, and plugging in a few players here and there with free agency.  The 2012 season was a perfect example of this philosophy.  Very little was done in free agency, whereas the draft was used to fill a number of key positions with players that will likely spend a long time in Minnesota.  This brings me to my point.  I’ve been on board with the Spielman way of doing things up until now.  Maybe I still am, but that depends on what happens in the next two days.  Let me explain:

A few months ago, after the Vikings had made it to the playoffs, Spielman was being ripped in the media and among the fan base for two things: not providing an adequate backup quarterback, and not bringing in any good (or even average) receivers.  Sure it’s easy to complain about these things when your team is in the playoffs and everything rests on those two parts of the team.  But think about the quarterback position at the beginning of the season.  This was a team that just went 3-13, and was undeniably in rebuilding mode.  Would you go with three young, talented, athletic QB’s, or would you get rid of one of those guys for a vet who will never be anything more than a backup?  I personally was all in favor of cutting Sage Rosenfels (as much as I like him) and keeping Joe Webb and Mclead Bethel-Thompson, two guys who have their whole careers ahead of them, and presumably nowhere to go but up.

On the second point, the lack of receivers, let’s not forget that Spielman did try to address this as well.  In free agency he picked up Jerome Simpson and John Carlson, two guys who could have really helped out the passing game.  Unfortunately neither worked out.  Then in the draft the Vikes picked up Greg Childs and Jarius Wright, another pair of potential playmakers that could help the Vikings abysmal passing game.  One was an utter failure due to injury, and the other was just mediocre in what playing time he had.  So to recap, that’s four guys who could theoretically catch a ball, and make an impact.  There’s only so much money you can spend on free agents, and you only have so many draft picks, so bringing in four new guys on a team that had so many needs seems to be reasonable.  Unfortunately none of them worked out as planned, but you can’t blame Spielman for not trying… although so many people do.

What does this have to do with free agency this year you might ask?  Let me reiterate that, putting emotions aside, I think the way that the receiver and quarterback situations were handled last year was the way to go.  Sure, it didn’t work out, and we all know that hindsight is 20/20, but given the way things were going into the 2012 season, it was what most of us would have done.  But now it’s 2013 and things are different.  The Vikings are a playoff team that has just been weakened by the loss of two great playmakers.  No doubt we’ll find some good players in the draft that can immediately step in and make a difference, but that won’t be enough.  Given the situation the Vikes are in right now, they need to make a move in free agency.  I’m thinking receiver.  They need to begin to replace the gaping hole in the offense that was left by Percy Harvin, and it’s not something that can be done in the draft, certainly not with all the other needs the Vikings still have to fill.  Taking Greg Jennings from our division rivals would be a good start…

It’s time for the Vikings to break their trend of mostly disregarding free agency and relying on the draft to build a team.  If they want to compete for a division title, and ultimately a Super Bowl, there are just too many things they need.  Go out and get a name like Greg Jennings, or anyone for that matter, just do something.  If there was ever a time it’d be now, where there’s a solid, young team that’s just a few big playmakers away from being a true Super Bowl contender.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/Ekolu33333 Ekolu Osorio

    Hey Adam, Jarius Wright was exceptional making some eye popping plays in his short but sweet rookie season. As for Greg Childs, his story is not finished yet and the same with Jerome Simpson. Remember the Vikings were given no chance of making the playoffs and they flipped all expectations.

  • Corey

    Sorry, I cannot bring myself to agree with your article here. Jarius Wright showed some promise last year, and I anticipate seeing him on the field quite a bit this year. As far as Greg Jennings… he is a “meh” at best option, and his injury history does not provide much comfort. I honestly believe signing Jennings would be a huge mistake, but that almost guarentees they are going after him.. if they get him cheap, I think the signing is fine, but they won’t. I really think you are going off his name and not his recent history if you think he will be great in Minnesota.

    There have been a few rumblings of the Vikings pursuing Amendola, and I think that would be a terrific option as a young, proven possession receiver. Wallace isn’t worth the money he’s commanding, and they tried to get Boldin. They will undoubtable pickup a couple WR’s out of the draft, which I think everyone has seen enough to know that WR’s in the draft are about as risky as they come, but you have to take some shots.

  • Patrick

    If anyone thinks that Jarius is going to be the next Percy you’re wrong. He was placed in that role last year when he was playing and didn’t have Percy numbers. One could argue we lost our best offensive and defensive playmakers, its not likely that those spots will be at what they were in 2012.

  • Reno

    I agree with u , if anyone thinks we shouldn’t sign a very good WR ur crazy , Two words STEAL CRUZ !

  • Mando

    Last night I went to bed mad that we didn’t land sign a FA. But when I woke up, I was glad to find we DIDN’T sign Jennings. We already have several players coming off on injury (Carlson, Childs, Simpson) and really do not need another injury prone receiver. Especially if we have to overpay to get one. We have more needs than receiver. We need a DT, CB upgrade, S upgrade, and a MLB upgrade and a backup QB, not to mention we need 2 more receivers. We only have 2 first round picks and I think 1 second rounder. We could use a combo of a later rounders and make a package to trade back up, but we more than likely won’t do that. So that leaves us with 3 starters in the draft and then trying to sign upgrades in FA that we can afford. If we sign Jennings or steal Cruz, we won’t have enough resources to fix other holes we have. Several of our positions are full of backups. I mean we are mostly a team made up of backup quality “starters”. We are lucky we have the few starting caliber players we do that, and that we magically made it to the playoffs last year. To say we are still contenders is wrong. We can’t again solely rely on AD to carry this team. We can’t have backup CB and S going against the best passing attack division in the league.
    I like Rick’s apporach. It is was the Pack does and they are contenders annually. I mean look at the free agent “winners” of the recent past, Bucs and Eagles and their “dream team”…look how far that got them. The pack never overspend on a player (even one of their own!) and develop the talent they draft. And they are deep at many positions. So while it may be “boring” and frustrating, it really is the best move. We just need upgrades to what we have. We have 4th tier talent, and I’d gladly take 2nd tier if it means we can fix more holes in our team. Because if as a team of mostly backup talent can make it to the play offs, if we could get a team of just a little bit better quality, we might be able to go even farther.

  • http://twitter.com/mrsamk Mandie Kranig

    Patrick you are wrong. Check this article: http://www.knowitallfootball.com/2013/03/12/jarius-wrights-potential-allowed-vikings-deal-harvin/
    It basically says JW was on track to do BETTER than Harvin and he is FASTER than Harvin. So I’d say he has a pretty good shot and replacing Harvin completely.
    I also do not completely agree with the article. We do not need another injury prone player. We have 3 already coming back from them, Carlson, Simpson and Childs. Overpaying for an old, injury prone receiver just isn’t smart. Not when we have so many holes left to fill. We have a team that on another other team would be a backup. Our receivers, our secondary (minus H. Smith), our linebackers (minus Greenway). In our division with Stafford throwing for 4000 yards a yr, with A. Rod and his 3, potentially 1000 yr receiving corp, and the Cutler and Marshall thing the Bears got, we need better pass attacking guys in our secondary. We need to find a DT to replace Williams. Our middle isn’t as stout like it used to be and Williams will be gone soon. And we don’t just need 1 receiver. We need 2. We can’t count that Childs will come back. I’m hoping like hell he does, but both of his needs are a mess. We have Chris Summers, a 6 ft 5 hulk, but he isn’t fast enough to be on the outside, he is more of a jump ball expert. So he is more rotational than a full on starter. We need to draft well, and sign smart. We don’t need to go out and break the bank and 1 top tier receiver when we have so many holes to fill. We need 2 maybe 3 great 2nd tier signings just to upgrade what we have. And maybe we’ll wait until after the draft. We’ll wait until after we see what we get and supplement our draft from there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=738407998 Brian McMorris

    Seems like everything you asked for, you got. Matt Cassel and Greg Jennings are about as much as Vikes fans had any reason to hope for. They are within the budget and within the concept the team is constructing. So far, Rick Spielman has done as well as a GM can do.