Hartman: Vikings Won’t Hire GM, Will Pursue Free Agents


Hoping for the Vikings to fill the obvious void at the top of their organization by hiring a new GM? Ain’t gonna happen, according to one veteran insider. The venerable Sid Hartman says Zygi Wilf is planning no major changes to the power structure at Winter Park. Instead, Wilf will likely promote Rick Spielman from VP of player personnel to full-on head of football operations status. This would presumably place more authority in Spielman’s hands and reduce the load on Leslie Frazier who has looked overwhelmed at times.

Question: How would things have been different in 2011 had Spielman been the GM instead of just the personnel guy? Would he have nixed the Donovan McNabb trade against Frazier’s protestations? Would he have shown Bernard Berrian the door sooner? Would he have disciplined insubordinate players like those who ignored Fred Pagac’s play calls? We can only speculate. Hopefully Spielman will be up to the challenge of running the football operation. It’s fair to be skeptical at this point given Spielman’s lack of GM experience and Wilf’s own shaky track record in hiring.

The other big talker from Hartman’s column involves the team’s plans for revamping the roster. The Wilfs told Hartman that they are “willing to delve into free agency” in order to improve. Here’s the potentially alarming sentence: “‘We will do anything necessary to make the Vikings a winner,’ said Zygi, who said he believes the Vikings personnel is better than the record indicates.” I would tend to disagree with the Wilfs’ assessment of the Vikings’ personnel. This team was not 3-13 because of bad breaks, it was 3-13 because of bad players and questionable coaching.

It’s nice that Zygi is willing to delve into free agency but is spending money on fading veterans the answer? Let’s hope the spending is prudent spending. The team certainly needs to look at whatever defensive backs are available and also offensive linemen. And wide receivers. In the end though, the draft will tell the tale on this team’s future. And even if the Vikings do pick up some good players in free agency and via the draft, are we sure this coaching staff is capable of fashioning that collection of talent into a winning team? It looks like it will be Rick Spielman’s job to assess that. I’m certain his first move as GM won’t be firing Leslie Frazier, but he will definitely make changes among the assistants, starting with Fred Pagac. Bill Musgrave is probably safe…unfortunately.

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