Blogs

Remember to Submit Your Mailbag Questions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 24, 2009 – 2:11 pm

Just a reminder to everyone that the Monday Morning Mailbag feature will continue through training camp. Each Monday during the offseason, we’ve posted fan questions and the answers to those question. We’ve also answered every question submitted to us that we didn’t post as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag feature.

So, if you have a question or if you just want to submit a comment, lob in an email to me at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. We’ll post the best ones and will respond to each email.


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NFL Moves Draft to Prime Time in 2010

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 24, 2009 – 12:03 pm

The premier offseason event on the NFL calendar will become even more accessible to fans next year, as the League announced on Thursday that the NFL Draft will kick off in prime time for the 1st time in 2010. Although the news was announced yesterday, we didn’t mention it because of the Asher Allen signing and the contract extension signed by Antoine Winfield.

According to a press release issued by the NFL, the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft will start on Thursday, April 22 at 7:30 PM ET with the 2nd and 3rd rounds on Friday, April 23 at 6:30 PM ET followed by rounds 4-7 on Saturday, April 24 at 10:00 AM ET.

The draft will continue to be televised by ESPN and NFL Network. The 2010 NFL Draft – the 75th draft in NFL history – will again be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

“We continue to look for ways to make the draft more accessible to more fans,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Moving the first round to prime time on Thursday night will make the first round of the draft available to fans on what is typically the most-watched night of television.”


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The Last Word (for now) on the Winfield Extension

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 24, 2009 – 9:04 am

There were a lot of moving parts yesterday as we tried to give you as much information as possible pertaining to the contract extension signed by CB Antoine Winfield. From the press release to a couple blog entries to the sitdown interview, there was a lot of Winfield-related coverage on vikings.com.

And now we have some more. But I think this will be the last word on it.

When word broke internally of the completed contract extension between Winfield and the club, I hustled up to the front office to congratulate Antoine and get his reaction. As time went on, Winfield spoke to local beat writers from the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Associated Press and Viking Update. Through it all, Winfield gave some candid answers and we just weren’t able to incorporate all of his quotes into yesterday’s coverage.

So, instead of trying to incorporate them into our coverage and create the illusion that I can actually string together several thoughts and compliment those thoughts and opinions with actual quotes, we’ll just list the quotes below.

“It was important for me because I want to finish my career here. This is my last stop. You usually see a lot of players, when they get up there in age, they go to different teams. That won’t happen with me. I won’t be bouncing around from team to team. Once I’m done playing for the Minnesota Vikings, my career is over.”

“I’ve been in the league ten years. My last five years in this purple uniform I’ve played my best football. Not only that, this team gives me an opportunity to win a championship right now. That’s very important to me. I definitely want to win a Super Bowl. My family is comfortable here. It gives my kids a few more years to go to school with their friends. And some security. Who wants to go into their last year on their contract with so much uncertainty? I’m glad the Vikings stepped up and reached out and got a great deal done.”

“I always enjoy going out and playing football in front of Minnesota Vikings fans. This is a great place to raise a family. I am just excited, I can’t wait.”

“When you get up in years in this league, I’ve seen it happen. Guys get over 30 and teams aren’t sure about their abilities. Guys start sliding around from team to team or they get cut. But this gives me a chance to exhale and not have to worry about that. I’m just excited about the season and I think we can do something really special this year.”


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Scout.com’s Preseason All-NFC North Defensive Team

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 24, 2009 – 7:36 am

The Vikings were well-represented with 4 players on Scout.com’s preseason All-NFC North offensive team. On Thursday, the site unveiled it’s All-NFC North defensive team, and 3 Vikings were recognized. You can view the team by clicking here.

Even when looking at the division’s top defensive players with an objective lens, one would have to wonder how only 3 Vikings could be recognized. There are probably 3 players along the defenisve line alone that rank among the division’s best – Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. So where does that leave players such as Antoine Winfield and the talented corps of starting linebackers that play in Minnesota?

Well, if you check out the link to Scout.com’s team, you’ll see that Allen and Kevin Williams are included, and so is Winfield. Absent from the list is Pat Williams, with Chicago’s Tommie Harris in his place instead.

Personally, Pat Williams would be a lock on my preseason All-NFC North defensive team. He’s coming off 3 consecutive Pro Bowls and he is literally the anchor of a unit that has led the league in rushing defense for 3 straight years. Nothing against Harris, who has been a great player over the past 3 seasons (when healthy), but the absence of Pat Williams on this team seems to be a fairly significant sum.

Having said that, Scout.com did a nice job picking 3 LBs. Although no Vikings are on the list, the 3 players who are named – Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and Julian Peterson – are legitimate players. You are familiar with Briggs and Urlacher, but those of you not familar with Peterson will become familiar with him this year. He was acquired by Detroit in the offseason via trade with the Seattle Seahawks and he will strengthen a group of NFC North LBs who already comprise a very strong group.

Just a few of the NFC North LBs who didn’t quite make the list include Chad Greenway, A.J. Hawk, E.J. Henderson, Ben Leber and Ernie Sims.


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More on the Winfield Extension

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 23, 2009 – 9:17 pm

Vikings CB Antoine Winfield was the smallest player on the roster in 2008. And depending on how this year’s roster cuts go, it’s likely he’ll also be the smallest player on the roster in 2009. But anyone who has watched a Vikings game since 2004 knows that although Winfield is the smallest player on the field, he makes one of the largest impacts for the Vikings defense.

It was with that in mind that the Vikings decided to work with Winfield and his agent, Ashanti Webb, on a contract extension that would keep #26 in a Vikings uniform for the duration of his career. However, as the Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad pointed out in a blog entry, there was much more to this particular contract negotiation than meets the eye.

There’s no doubting the value Winfield adds to the Vikings defense. But one must also remember that Winfield is 32 years old, and it’s not very often that you see teams racing through negotiations to extend the contract of a 30+ year old CB. In fact, this particular scenario was so unusual, according to Webb, that the Vikings and Webb really had little to work with in terms of a precedent. Often times in contract negotiations, a team and player representative will reference the contracts of other players in the league who are in similar circumstances.

For this particular negotiation, though, no relevent precedent really existed. Add in the fact that Winfield still had another year left on his existing deal, and you can see why there was a pointed ebb and flow to this negotiation.

“Working with [VP of Football Operations] Rob (Brzezinski) was really good,” Webb said. “It was a tough situation because we had nothing to go by. This was an unprecedented deal. If you look at some veteran players – the Kurt Warners and Alan Fanecas and Ray Lewises – they’ve done deals but they had to play it out (to the end of the contract). Randy Moss and T.O., they had to play it out. But to do it a year early, for a cornerback, we had nothing (to use as a precedent). We had to go back to Ty Law years ago to find a true cornerback deal where the guy is playing well and the team wants to keep him.

“The Vikings wanted to get it done, that was never the issue. And we wanted to get it done. I think it came out to be a good masterpiece for both sides. Everybody got what they wanted. Antoine got the security he was looking for and the Vikings got the player they wanted and I’m very comfortable with the numbers in the deal.”

Although there was an ebb and flow to the negotiations, Winfield said on Thursday that he was confident throughout the process that a new deal would be done.

“I knew eventually a contract would get done, either during the season or when the season ended,” Winfield said. “I was going to end up retiring a Viking. No player wants to go into a final year; there are just too many risks. Especially at my age – being thirty-two – and having to move the family and do all those kinds of things. I’m glad it worked out.

“I really do enjoy playing for this organization. I enjoy my teammates, my coaches, this city, I’m very familiar with it. I’ve been here five years. The respect the Vikings showed; they didn’t have to do this deal. I still had a year on my contract, but they knew I wanted to be here and they wanted me here, so that’s why we got a deal done.”


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Winfield Extension Solidifies Vikings Defense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 23, 2009 – 4:32 pm

Click here to watch Antoine Winfield and Mike Wobschall discuss the contract extension.

News of CB Antoine Winfield signing a 5-year contract extension with the club is music to the ears of Vikings fans. The news likely won’t be as graciously received by opposing teams and their fans.

With Winfield now under contract for a handful of years, the core of the Vikings defense will remain in tact for several more seasons. Key players such as CB Cedric Griffin, LB E.J. Henderson, DT Kevin Williams, DT Pat Williams and Winfineld have recently been re-signed to extensions. In addition, DE Jared Allen and S Madieu Williams are entering just their 2nd seasons after signing significant deals last offseason.

Signing a contract extension with the Vikings became a priority of Winfield’s immediately after the conclusion of the 2008 season. After an offseason of negotiations between the Vikings and Winfield’s agent, Ashanti Webb, a deal was finally reached and now Winfield can focus solely on playing football and helping the defense improve against the pass and continue its dominance against the run.

The Vikings have led the NFL in rush defense in each of the last 3 seasons (2006-08), marking the 1st time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that a team has led the NFL in rush defense 3 consecutive seasons. Winfield is considered one of the NFL’s top tackling CBs, and with him now enjoying the security he’s sought and coming off his 1sts Pro Bowl season in 2008, the 5-9, 180-pound tackling machine is anxious to get to camp and help the club defend its 2008 NFC North title.

“We have all the pieces, there should be no excuses this season,” Winfield said. “Everyone is coming in with the mindset that we want to go and win the Super Bowl.

“Every since I signed with the Vikings 5 years ago, I’ve been playing at a totally different level. I want to win a Super Bowl and the Vikings give me a chance to win right now.”


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Randall McDaniel Live Chat on NFL.com

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 23, 2009 – 11:08 am

Former Vikings OL Randall McDaniel will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August and I will be there to share the experience with all of you.

NFL.com has been conducting live chats with this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class, and it was McDaniel’s turn yesterday. You can read the chat by clicking here.


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4 Vikings Make Scout.com’s All-NFC North Offense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 22, 2009 – 8:48 am

The 4 writers who cover the NFC North for Scout.com, including Tim Yotter from Viking Update, are putting their heads together to compile a preseason All-NFC North team. They began with the offense, and 4 Vikings made their team.

You can view the team, and reasons behind each pick, by clicking here.

The team looks pretty solid. There’s always going to be viable debates when a group of people get together to compile a preseason all-star team. One change I might have considered was including Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe instead of Bears TE Greg Olsen. Don’t get me wrong, Olsen is a fine pick, but Shiancoe projects as a better player this year in my eyes. Although the Bears currently have a better QB situation, I think Olsen will be the focus of every team’s attention when they try to stop the Bears passing game.

In addition to that, Shiancoe really came on last year as a threat in the Vikings passing game. Atlthough he had 12 fewer receptions, Shiancoe did have 2 more TDs than Olsen, double the number of catches of 20+ yards and also better per-catch and per-game receiving yardage totals. Again, it might be a nit-picky complaint, but one worth at least mentioning.


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Schein: Greenway a “Tackling Machine” and Most Underrated LB in NFL

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 21, 2009 – 5:14 pm

In a video posted on MSN.com, Adam Schein has identified a handful of players to watch this upcoming training camp and season. One of the player’s he’s distinguished is Vikings LB Chad Greenway.

Schein identifies Greenway as a “breakthrough Pro Bowler” this year, the most underrated LB in the NFL and a “tackling machine.” As Schein makes his case for Greenway, he astutely points out that the LB is often overshadowed by the Williams Wall, saying that Greenway doesn’t get enough credit for “being skilled as a tackler, athletic and a team leader.”

While there’s no mistaking that Kevin and Pat Williams are vital to any success the Vikings defense experiences, there’s also no denying that Greenway stepped his game up last year when MLB E.J. Henderson was lost for the season in Week 4. When the season concluded, Greenway led the team with 150 tackles. Schein contends that even if Greenway has a similar type season in 2009 as he had in 2008, it would be a “crime” if he wasn’t named to the Pro Bowl.

Other players Schein identified as potential breakout players were Panthers LB Jon Beason, 49ers OT Joe Staley and Bears TE Greg Olsen.


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Send Your Questions to the vikings.com Mailbag

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 20, 2009 – 11:03 pm

The slow part of the NFL calendar is quickly passing us by and training camp is just over a week away. As is the case in every NFL city, things will get intersting once camp begins and vikings.com is your #1 source for exclusive Vikings information.

One way to gain insight into your favorite football team is to send a question in to the vikings.com Mailbag. Each Monday during the offseason, we published several questions and answers. We even answered all the questions that weren’t published. So, if you have a question, or just want to share a comment regarding the Vikings or any other NFL-related news, the vikings.com Mailbag is a great way to interact with the club and other readers.

Send questions and comments, with your name and town included, to me at: wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net.


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