Vikings Beef Up Offensive Line Competition

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 26, 2012 – 11:23 am

The Vikings have made official the signing of free agent OL Geoff Schwartz, adding the versatile 5th-year pro to an offensive line that is getting younger this offseason. The move reunites Schwartz with Vikings OL coach Jeff Davidson, who was the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator from 2007-10 when Schwartz was drafted by the Panthers in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Oregon.

The Vikings released veteran OGs Anthony Herrera and Steve Hutchinson earlier this month, and they appear committed to getting younger along the offensive line while also adding competition at the same time. Schwartz will turn 26 in July and has played in 32 games with 19 starts in his career. He’s dealt with injuries since entering the NFL, with his 32 games played and 19 starts coming over just 2 seasons. He is listed as appearing in no games in 2008 (his rookie season) and in 2011.

Following the release of Herrera and Hutchinson, I proposed an economical, long-term plan for the offensive line that included drafting Matt Kalil at #3, moving Charlie Johnson to LG and then holding competition for the starting RG spot between veteran Joe Berger and youngster Brandon Fusco, along with Chris DeGeare and any other future draft picks joining the competition. That plan would produce plenty of competition for at least one starting spot – RG – and could also open competition at LG should one of the youngsters push Johnson for playing time.

The Vikings decision to sign Schwartz only increases the competition for playing time. One could argue that if the Vikings had to play a game today, Schwartz would be the starter at one of the guard positions, or event perhaps at LT. But the Vikings don’t have to play a game today, and won’t play a game for another 4.5 months. In the meantime, Schwartz and the rest of his new offensive line teammates will go through a robust competition for playing time.

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Would CB Asante Samuel Be A Good Fit In Minnesota?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 26, 2012 – 6:53 am

Not many NFL players have been involved in more trade rumors than Eagles CB Asante Samuel. And now, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Samuel is once again the subject of trade speculation in Philadelphia. With the Vikings needing an upgrade in the secondary and with Samuel reportedly on the trade block, that begs the question here, Is Samuel a good option for the Vikings?

The answer, in my view, is maybe.

Keep in mind that Samuel is 31 years old with 9 seasons of wear and tear on his tread. He’s also due $9.5 million in 2012, a number that is far too high for comfort. With those facts under consideration, I don’t think the Vikings should give up much in the way of draft picks to acquire his services. While he would instantly upgrade the Vikings secondary, it would come at too steep of a price for a CB on the wrong side of 30 and a team looking to rebuild its roster.

Rebuilding a roster to eventually yield an annual contender does not happen by adding 31-year old veterans.

But there are two plausible scenarios in which I think the Vikings and Samuel could unite. One would involve the Eagles dropping their asking price to a 6th-round or 7th-round pick, and then for Samuel to agree to a contract restructuring that would dramatically drop his cap number for 2012. The second scenario would be for the Eagles to fail at finding a trading partner and to simply cut Samuel in order to avoid paying him that $9.5 million salary.

Don’t count on that second scenario. We’ve already seen the Eagles shrewd front office coax other teams into lopsided trades. Last year the Eagles convinced the Arizona Cardinals to trade CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd-round pick for QB Kevin Kolb. It’s Rodgers-Cromartie’s presence on the roster, in fact, that has made Samuel an expendable talent in their CB stable. So don’t be surprised if the Eagles are able to capitalize on their surplus of CBs in similar fashion to how they capitalized on their surplus of QBs a year ago.

I’m just not sure the Vikings will be the team Philadelphia dances with this time. At the right price, I’d consider it. A 6th-round or 7th-round pick might seem like too low of an offer to acquire Samuel, a 4-time Pro Bowler and 3-time All-Pro with 45 career INTs. But keep in mind, the price a team pays to acquire Samuel, whether in trade compensation or salary, is for what he can do in 2012, not for what he’s done prior to 2012.

I’m not sure what Samuel can do in 2012, but I am sure that, at the right price, I’d consider taking a front row seat to find out.

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