Childress Finishes Media Visits

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 26, 2010 – 12:21 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress has finished meeting with reporters in the media center and we’ll have updates and thoughts about what he had to say.

We’ll also be posting on the audio files from his and VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman’s SIRIUS Satellite Radio appearances.

I’m going to grab some lunch and then head back to work to update you on what Childress had to say today while meeting with reporters.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 1 Comment »

Spielman On Favre, Vikings QB Situation

Posted by cjsiewert on February 26, 2010 – 11:01 am

With team officials from the Vikings mulling over their prospect options at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this weekend, one question is sure to still be looming after the Combine is complete: Who will be under center for the Vikings come training camp?

The Vikings would love to see future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre back for his 20th NFL season, but there has been no indication from Favre or his agent, Bus Cook, on whether or not he will return this fall.

When asked by reporters about the absent indication from Favre on his return, Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman showed no agitation to the question.

“Brett will make his decision when he makes his decision,” he said.

Although many people may feel uneasy about the Vikings giving Favre as much time as he needs to make a decision on his future with the team, Spielman does not feel that this puts the organization in a difficult position.

“I don’t think it’s tough,” he said.  “I think everybody feels comfortable with T-Jack (Tarvaris Jackson) and with Sage (Rosenfels).  We have stated that we would love to have [Favre] back, but we’ll just keep on going about our normal business and continue building our team as we go through these processes over the next six months and see where we end up.”

Favre, who has not made any sort of public appearance since the devastating loss to the Saints in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 24, is scheduled to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 4.  Without question, most Vikings fans will tune-in to next Thursday’s airing of the late night talk show hoping for an answer on his future with the Vikings, but nobody can be certain given Favre’s unpredictability.

Spielman mentioned that Favre’s scheduled appearance was news to him and that he would probably be sound asleep at the time the show airs (10:35 p.m.).

“I’m an early riser and early to bed guy,” he said.

Tags: ,
Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 5 Comments »

Emptying The Notebook On Spielman Conversation

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 26, 2010 – 9:55 am

While we’re waiting for Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress to arrive in the media center for his formal press conference and then his sitdown with Vikings beat writers, I want to empty out the notebook from Thursday’s conversation with Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman.

– Using the pending status Brett Favre’s return to the Vikings in 2010 as context, Spielman was asked about this year’s class of QBs. At the top of most people’s lists are players such as Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen. Also in the mix are Texas’ Colt McCoy and Florida’s Tim Tebow. But with the Vikings picking at #30, many speculate that Bradford and Clausen will be gone and that it’ll be too early for the Vikings to select either McCoy or Tebow.

Anyway, here’s what Spielman had to say about this year’s crop of QBs: “It’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds. I don’t know if it’s as heavy at the top as it has been, but there may be some values as you go on down through the rounds. I think there’s value and if you do a good job in your preparation and you do a good job in developing your board, you can get some value for guys in those later rounds.”

That prompted a follow question from one of the reporters, asking if he envisioned the Vikings finding a good value at QB in the later rounds.

“There’s potentially a few that could be valued in the backend,” Spielman said. “Again, it’s still early in the process, and we’ve still got a lot of boxes to fill in our reports.”

– Spielman will enter his 20th season in the NFL in 2010 and he’s also spent time as an analyst on ESPN covering the NFL, so he performs well when he’s meeting with reporters. Because of his experience both in front offices and TV studios, he knows when to answer a question seriously, when to joke around and when to mix in a little of both.

A great example of this is his response when informed that Favre will be appearing on the Jay Leno Show on March 4. Spielman, who wasn’t aware of Favre’s show business plans, said he’d have to TiVo the program because he’d already be in bed sleeping.

“I’m an early riser and early to bed guy,” Spielman said.

– Rules of the Final League Year – specifically the rule that requires a player to accrue 6 seasons instead of 4 to achieve unrestricted free agent (UFA) status and the final 4 rule that places restrictions on teams that participated in Conference Championship Games from signing UFAs – will make acquiring free agents a bit more cumbersome for the Vikings this offseason.

With that in mind, Spielman was asked if the draft them becomes more important than in years past.

“I don’t ever think a draft is not important,” Spielman pointed out. “I don’t think you ever go into a draft and say ‘Hey, this one is going to be really important. Last year wasn’t very important at all.’

“Every draft is extremely important and I don’t take it differently and we’re not going to do anything differently than we have in the past.”

– It’s been widely speculated that the Vikings will open their regular season with a Thursday night game at the New Orleans Saints. Spielman said he hasn’t been given any indication by the league that that’s indeed the case.

– Finally, Spielman was asked about players turn down opportunities to participate in certain aspects of the Combine, specifically QBs who elect not to throw in front of NFL coaches and scouts. Here was his response: “I just think, again, regardless of position, if you’re not here competing then I’ve always had an issue with that, especially if you’re healthy. And I know there have been some quarterbacks that have not thrown here and one of the biggest reasons you here is because they don’t have the timing down with the receivers. And when you’re evaluating QBs at the Combine, you’re looking more at his mechanics and his release…looking at the arm strength. You know that he may have never thrown to that guy.

“You may want to ask some of the agents why they don’t have their quarterbacks throw, but I imagine that (comfort with receivers) may be one of the reasons. They want to go to their campus (on their Pro Day) and throw on their own turf, throw to the people they’ve been throwing to the last four years. And that’s great but the people you’ve been throwing to the last four years probably aren’t going to be the people you’re throwing to when you come into minicamp. So are you not going to throw in minicamp until you get used to those guys?”

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | No Comments »

Debating The Vikings Offensive Line And The NFL Draft

Posted by cjsiewert on February 26, 2010 – 8:48 am

The NFL Scouting Combine is now in full swing and the event allows us the opportunity to begin speculating how NFL teams will use the draft to improve their roster.

No position on any team is exempt from being addressed via draft picks, including the left side of the Vikings offensive line. On one hand, the Purple featured 2 Pro Bowlers in that spot during 2009 season. On the other hand, though, one could raise concern in light of LG Steve Hutchinson’s nagging injuries last season and the choices LT Bryant McKinnie made in the week leading up to the Pro Bowl.

If your focus tends to drift toward the negative, perhaps you view OL as a need for the Vikings heading into the 2010 NFL Draft.

But I don’t see the need at all.

Admittedly, McKinnie has dealt with off-field transgressions, but on the field the mammoth LT has been an effective player for the Vikings during his entire career. McKinnie has paved the way for All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of the last 3 seasons and he did the same for Chester Taylor back in 2006.

As far as the LG position goes, the Vikings haven’t had a worry since Hutchinson arrived in 2006 and they likely won’t have to worry about that spot for another 4-5 seasons.

Hutchinson has been arguably the best player at his position in the NFL since he entered the league in 2001. He’s a 7-time Pro Bowler who has blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his 9 NFL seasons – Shaun Alexander from 2001-05, Taylor in 2006 and Peterson from 2007-09.

After talking with fellow writer Mike Wobschall, it’s agreed that McKinnie and Hutchinson are still playing very well and aren’t soon approaching a drop-off.

As a result, don’t count on the Vikings using an early-round pick to address either position along the left side of their offensive line.

Posted in All, CJ Siewert, Mike Wobschall | 2 Comments »

Day 3 Schedule; Childress To Meet With Media

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 26, 2010 – 7:38 am

Day 3 of the NFL Scouting Combine is underway in Indianapolis and I’m in the Lucas Oil Stadium media center to make sure you’re covered and updated on all the happenings.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress will make his media rounds, just as VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman did on Thursday. Childress will go to the podium here in the media center around 10:15 a.m. CT, then he may or may not swing by the SIRIUS Satellite Radio booth and finally he’ll have a sitdown session with Vikings beat writers.

For the players, Day 3 is arrival day for Groups 7-9, which consist of DL and LBs. They’ll go through registration, hospital pre-exam and x-rays, orientation and team interviews. Groups 4-6, who arrived on Thursday, will go through measurements, medical exams, media sessions, psychological testing and team interviews. And Groups 1-3 will have an NFLPA meeting, psychological testing, on-field workouts and more team interviews.

Saturday is the day you’ll start to see the on-field workouts really start to come into play, which is a fun part of this event to observe.

That’s it for now, but we’ll have constant updates today so be sure to stay tuned to and the Blog to stay in the loop…

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | No Comments »

Vikings Don’t Play Tag

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2010 – 5:38 pm

The NFL Scouting Combine is an event designed to help teams evaluate the incoming crop of draft-eligible players. But during the Combine, the period for teams to apply the franchise and/or transition tag to players already in the league and on their roster expires.

Thursday at 3:00 p.m. CT was the deadline and it passed without the Vikings choosing to use either tag. The only real possibility for the Vikings was RB Chester Taylor, although that would’ve caught many people by surprise. Unless the Vikings and Taylor reach an agreement in the next week, the 9-year veteran will become a free agent.

While the Vikings didn’t use either tag, 6 other teams did. Among the 6 teams who tagged a player was the Green Bay Packers, who franchised DT Ryan Pickett. The other teams to use the franchise tag were: 49ers (NT Aubrayo Franklin), Patriots (NT Vince Wilfork), Raiders (DE Richard Seymour), Seahawks (K Olindo Mare) and Steelers (K Jeff Reed).

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 14 Comments »

A Break In The Combine Coverage For An Inside Look At NFLN With PA

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2010 – 3:27 pm

We’ve been covering the NFL Scouting Combine non-stop for the past couple days, but I want to take just a quick break to point out something that will capture your interest.

As we mentioned and showed on earlier this week, our buddy and Vikings Radio Network play-by-play extraordinaire Paul Allen was in Los Angeles doing a spot on NFL Network’s Total Access. As you’ll see if you click on the link in the last sentence, PA did a great job talking Vikings with the NFLN crew.

But PA also did a great job of capturing behind the scenes footage with his flipcam and he also posted it on his showpage. You can watch the bit by clicking here. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

Posted in All | 6 Comments »

More On Spielman And Vikings Free Agency

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2010 – 3:08 pm

A few additional notes to our earlier post regarding Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman and his thoughts on the Vikings free agency situation…

– This was Spielman’s response when he was asked about free agent RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook, who’ve both been linked to the Vikings since their release from the Chargers and Eagles, respectively: “We stick to the same philosophy we’ve always had. Regardless of the position, if there’s a guy out there that can help us, then we do it. If we can fill it from within, then we do that as well. I don’t think we’d ever not look at anybody that becomes available, but you have discussions about it and you make your decision and move on.”

Spielman (wisely) didn’t elaborate specifically on either Tomlinson or Westbrook and instead reiterated in a general sense that the Vikings take a good look at every available player and make a determination, based on several factors, as to whether or not each player is a good fit for the organization.

– We discussed several of the Vikings unrestricted free agents (UFAs) in an earlier post on Thursday, but also don’t forget that the Vikings have a healthy crop of restricted free agents (RFAs) that they must address. Those RFAs are: OL Ryan Cook, DE Ray Edwards, DT Fred Evans, QB Tarvaris Jackson, CB Karl Paymah and FB Fahu Tahi. Spielman said today that the Vikings have decided which tender level they will assign to each player but that the club will not disclose that information until the day before free agency. If you’re confused about what a RFA tender is or how the process works, click here to learn more.

–As we touched on earlier Thursday, the lack of a salary cap and a salary floor this offseason could have any number of consequences on this year’s free agent climate (owners could spend like crazy or they could keep their pocketbooks closed). Spielman was clear in explaining that it’s not known how other teams will respond to this new environment and that his sole focus is on developing and executing a free agency plan for the Vikings. Asked if Vikings ownership has given a “green light” to pursuing players, this was Spielman’s response: “I just know that our ownership, since I’ve been here, has always done things to make sure that if there is someone we feel that unique about that we are able to go out and get them. Again, we are very fortunate, the fans of Minnesota are very fortunate, to have owners that are willing to go out and put the resources out there to go get the players that we need to win ballgames.”

Posted in All | 4 Comments »

Spielman Talks About Vikings Free Agents

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2010 – 12:39 pm

Vikings Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman sat down with Vikings beat writers on Thursday after appearing on SIRIUS Satellite Radio, an annual tradition of his at the NFL Scouting Combine. Much was discussed during the sitdown and we’ll have plenty more updates throughout the next couple of days, but I wanted to quickly mention that Spielman was asked several questions about the Vikings strategy in free agency.

Teams are not allowed to talk to players who will become free agents on March 5 because they are still under contract with another team. But the Vikings are free to speak with their own pending free agents, such as RB Chester Taylor.

Others, such as DT Jimmy Kennedy, WR Greg Lewis and CB Benny Sapp are also on schedule to become free agents in the early part of March. Because the Vikings are limited in pursuing unrestricted free agents (UFAs) due to new rules that apply to the Final League Year, it’s even more important for the team to identify the players they’d like to retain.

From the sounds of it, the Vikings will try to retain most of their UFAs.

“We’ve always tried to keep our guys on the football team if we can get them back,” Spielman explained. “But sometimes, whether it’s a financial situation or something [else], it’s not always possible. Sometimes it works out.

“All our guys that are our unrestricted free agents are guys that helped us win ballgames last year and I think everybody in the organization feels strongly about at least trying to get these guys back.”

The highest-profile UFA on the Vikings roster is Taylor, who’s been an important part of the Vikings offense since he signed as a free agent back in 2006. If the Vikings are unable to reach an agreement with Taylor before March 5, the RB will be able to test the open market and assess his value.

With that said, Spielman was then asked what kind of market environment he expects given the new rules in the Final League Year. The new rules are such that the salary cap disappears, but so does the salary floor. So will teams spend money as if it’s going on trees? Or will they sit on the money because there’s no spending requirement?

“I don’t know where the market’s going because it’s a whole new deal this year,” Spielman. “I don’t know what other teams are going to do; like I said, it’s an unknown.

“But Chester is one of those guys that we would definitely want to try to sign back if we can. Just like Greg Lewis, just like Jimmy Kennedy, just like Benny Sapp. All those guys are a huge part of our success last year.”

We’ll have more updates from the conversation with Spielman posted shortly…

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in All | 5 Comments »

Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz Speaks At Combine

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2010 – 10:10 am

Head coaches from every NFL team and a personnel executive from many NFL teams make their way through the media center to meet with reporters during the Combine. I don’t stand in and listen to every one of them, but whenever a team from the NFC North sends a representative to the podium, I try to pay attention.

Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz just finished meeting with reporters and I was able to stick my ear in and hear some of what he had to say. Schwartz just finished his 1st seasons with the Lions and led the club to a 2-14 record. Detroit has the #2 pick overall in this April’s NFL draft.

A few quick notes/thoughts on what Schwartz had to say while answering questions from reporters…

– Schwartz said early in the conversation that one big difference between this year’s Combine and last year’s Combine is that this year he’s not looking to find a starting QB. Last year, the Lions selected QB Matthew Stafford with the #1 overall selection. Stafford played and started 10 games in 2009 and certainly had his fair share of struggles. But the process of developing him into an NFL starter and potential franchise QB is well underway, and that makes building the rest of the team much more manageable, Schwartz acknowledged.

– Continuing on the QB issue, Schwartz was asked about the future of Daunte Culpepper, who played in 8 games and had 5 starts for the Lions last season. Culpepper will also become a free agent on March 5. Schwartz did not say whether Culpepper would indeed return to Detroit or if the Lions would let him walk away and sign with another team, but the Lions head coach did say that the team is open to any number of possibilities.

– While the Lions selected a QB with the #1 pick of the 1st round last year, they used the #1 pick of the 2nd round to take S Louis Delmas out of Western Michigan. Schwartz called Delmas the team’s best defensive player, which is high praise considering he was only a rookie last year and also considering that Schwartz is a defensive-minded head coach.

But the thing that stuck out the most to me is that while speaking about Delmas, Schwartz perfectly characterized what the NFL Scouting Combine is all about. So often the perception is that this event is where decisions about draft day are made when in reality the Combine is just another small piece of a large puzzle. Schwartz said that the Lions felt good about Delmas, all the way from the good grades their college scouts gave him to the fact that he played his best ball against top competition to his performance at the Senior Bowl. Then, Schwartz said, Delmas impressed the club during interviews at the Combine and that Delmas generally showed the Lions that he was the same person on the field that he was off the field.

I’m off now to listen to Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman appear on SIRIUS NFL Satellite Radio and then meet with Twin Cities reporters. More from the Combine a bit later…

Posted in All | 6 Comments »