While the rest of us were winding down on Friday after a busy week of free agency, the Vikings front office was ramping up their effort to continue improving an already young and talented roster. Early Friday afternoon the Vikings finalized the signing of former Patriots and Chiefs QB Matt Cassel to beef up the competition at QB behind starter Christian Ponder.
It was the signing late on Friday afternoon that created the biggest buzz in the Vikings fan base, though, as the team completed its courtship of WR Greg Jennings by signing him to a contract. Jennings has been a thorn in the Vikings side since he entered the League in 2006 as a 2nd-round draft choice of the division rival Green Bay Packers, but now he’ll be a helping hand for a Vikings offense that looks to improve its passing game while maintaining its identity as a dominant, physical run-first group.
By now you’ve read up on both signings to get all the formal information. But here are some fun facts about your two newest Vikings…
– Attended same high school as NY Yankees legend Derek Jeter (Kalamazoo Central).
– Married to the former Nicole Lindsey. Couple has 3 daughters: Amya, 5; Alea, 3; and Ayva, 2 and 1 son: Aice.
– Caught Brett Favre’s 400th career TD pass.
– Also caught Brett Favre’s 420th and 421st TD passes as the future Hall of Fame QB chased, matched and surpassed Dan Marino’s career record for TD passes.
– Caught Aaron Rodgers’ first career TD pass.
– Posted 68 receptions and 10 TDs in 15 games vs. the Vikings while helping Green Bay to an 11-4.
– Made an appearance on the CBS crime drama Criminal Minds, playing the role of a lab.
– Grew up in Northridge, CA where he helped lead his squad to the 1994 Little League World Series.
– Was selected in the 36th round of the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft by Oakland.
– Teammates at USC with Ryan Kalil, older brother of Vikings LT Matt Kalil.
– Majored in communications at USC where he was roomed with Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu.
– Married to Lauren, the couple has daughters Quinn and Ella.
– Backed up Brady on 2007 Patriots squad that went 16-0 in the regular season and played New York in Super Bowl.
Tags: 2013 Free Agency, Greg Jennings, Matt Cassel
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 768 Comments »
About this time in 2009, there was question as to where Phil Loadholt would settle in the NFL. In what would he be selected? And what position would he play? Would he use that massive arm span to corral the League’s best pass rushers as a left tackle or would he use his size and strength to maul defenders in the run game as a right tackle?
Eventually, all of those questions were answered, and they were answered by the Vikings when they selected Loadholt in the 2nd round. Loadholt had 4 productive seasons for the Vikings while playing under his rookie contract, and he proved his worth to the point that the Vikings locked him up for multiple more years on Tuesday, the opening day of the 2013 League Year.
Now, there’s no question where Loadholt is settling. Minnesota.
“I love being in Minnesota, love the community, and my family feels really at home,” Loadholt said. “It’s been great settling in Minnesota and calling it home. I was drafted here, and I wanted to come back and finish what we started here. I have a good feeling about where things are going with this team. We’ve just got to continue to build on what we’ve got and keep improving.”
A combination of ability, size and age made Loadholt an attractive option for teams looking to beef up their offensive line. The Vikings valued the 6-8, 343-pound road-grading run blocker more than anyone else, though. With Loadholt now retained as the team’s starting right tackle, the Vikings have invested heavily and wisely in their offensive line. Left tackle Matt Kalil, a 1st-round pick just a year ago and already a Pro Bowler, bookends the line with Loadholt. John Sullivan, who signed a contract extension in December of 2011, anchors the line and has emerged as one of the top centers in the NFL. At right guard the Vikings have developed 2011 sixth-round pick Brandon Fusco into a solid player and Charlie Johnson slid inside to left guard once the team selected Kalil fourth overall in 2012.
“It was important to keep the consistency we have on the line,” Loadholt said. “The more we keep working together the better we will be as a group. If we continue to stay healthy and work hard we can reach our goals.”
Of course having Adrian Peterson to block for doesn’t hurt, either.
“Having the best running back in the league makes blocking a lot more fun,” Loadholt said of his fellow Oklahoma Sooner. “Adrian makes everyone’s job easier and knowing what he can do makes you want to work even harder.”
Tags: 2013 Free Agency, Adrian Peterson, Phil Loadholt
Posted in All | 165 Comments »
Free agency is about to begin and while we wait to see which players the Vikings sign this year, let’s take a look back at the best (modern) free agent signings in franchise history.
Here’s a list of the Top 10 (year signed), with honorable mentions at the bottom.
Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry…
10. Ben Leber (2006)
Leber is a great example of a free agent who provided his team with outstanding value relative to the contract he signed. A starter for 5 seasons at outside LB for the Vikings, Leber was an important part of defenses that ranked 1st against the run for 3 straight seasons (2006-08) and that helped the franchise capture back-to-back division titles in 2008-09 as well as an appearance in the NFC title game following the ‘09 season.
9. Jeff Christy (1993)
A 4th-round pick of the Phoenix Cardinals in 1992, Christy was eventually cut and missed that season. Phoenix’s trash was the Vikings treasure, as Christy played 7 seasons in Minnesota and was a key cog on an offensive line that in 1998 blocked for one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history. Christy was a 2-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler in Minnesota who started all 16 games of a season 5 times as a Viking.
8. Gary Anderson (1998)
In just 5 seasons with the Vikings, Anderson quickly climbed the franchise’s all-time scoring list and still ranks 6th. He had a perfect regular season in 1998, helping the Vikings to a 15-1 record. In 2000, Anderson surpassed the legendary George Blanda to become the NFL’s all-time leading scorer (he now ranks 2nd).
7. Darren Sharper (2005)
One of the most prolific ball-hawking safeties in the NFL, Sharper jumped state lines in 2005 and joined the Vikings for 4 productive seasons. During his Vikings career, Sharper was an All-Pro twice and he tallied 18 INTs and 3 TDs.
6. Pat Williams (2005)
One half of the famed “Williams Wall” that anchored a dominant Vikings run defense for half a decade, Williams finished his 14-year NFL career with 6 great seasons in Minnesota. The Vikings became the first team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to lead the NFL in rush defense, and Williams was a key contributor in that effort.
5. Randall Cunningham (1997)
Out of football for a year in 1996, Cunningham joined the Vikings in ‘97 and displayed no signs of rust. He enjoyed the greatest season of his career as a Viking in 1998, guiding the Vikings to a 15-1 regular season record with 34 TDs and only 10 INTs. Among QBs with 20+ starts, Cunningham has the 2nd-best winning percentage (.696) and his 34-TD campaign in ‘98 still ranks 2nd all-time in club history.
4. Ryan Longwell (2006)
As steady as the day is long, Longwell was a key part of 2 division winning teams during his 6 years with the Vikings and finished his career in Purple ranked 3rd in all-time scoring. Blair Walsh began to rewrite the Vikings record book for kickers, and much of what he’s rewritten only validates how productive Longwell was for the Vikings. Longwell ranks 1st in Vikings history with 9 game-winning FGs.
3. Steve Hutchinson (2006)
A member of the 50 Greatest Vikings team, Hutchinson was a dominant road-grading run blocker and sure-fire pass protector during his 6 seasons with the Vikings. Hutchinson earned 4 of his 7 career Pro Bowls with the Vikings, and he was an invaluable part of Vikings offenses that featured a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his seasons in Minnesota.
2. Brett Favre (2009)
After torturing the Vikings for 16 seasons as a member of the Packers, Favre joined the Purple in 2009 and had arguably his best season with 33 TDs and a passer rating of 107.2 while leading the Vikings to the NFC title game. Favre was the difference between a team that went 10-6/one-and-done in the playoffs following the 2008 season and a team that went 12-4 and was on the brink of a Super Bowl appearance.
1. Antoine Winfield (2004)
An easy selection at #1, Winfield has been the rare blue-chip signing who outperforms expectations. He has played in 119 games over 9 seasons with the Vikings and in 2010 was named to the 50 Greatest Vikings team. Twice he’s recorded a single-season team record for tackles by a CB (110) and he now holds the Vikings record for most fumble recoveries by a DB with 11 and ranks tied for 2nd in team history with 12 forced fumbles by a DB. Winfield has also scored all 5 of his career touchdowns (2 FRs, 2 INTs, 1 blocked FG) as a Viking.
Honorable mention: Jerry Ball, Bernard Berrian, Greg Biekert, Corey Chavous, Jack Del Rio, Jerome Felton, Lance Johnstone, Fuad Reveiz, Visanthe Shiancoe, Chester Taylor
Tags: 2013 Free Agency, Antoine Winfield, Ben Leber, Bernard Berrian, Brett Favre, Chester Taylor, Darren Sharper, Jerome Felton, Pat Williams, Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson, Visanthe Shiancoe
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 972 Comments »
In 2012 the Vikings notched the greatest single-season win improvement in franchise history, moving from 3 wins in 2011 to 10 wins this past season. This offseason the team will look to further improve the roster through the retension and acquisition of free agents and the development of another strong draft class.
The first step in that process has already begun, as the Vikings front office is in the process of evaluating its own class of free agents as well as the large group of players scheduled to become free agents on Tuesday, the first day of the new League Year. Before a team delves into the free agent market, it must first address the status of its own free agents. Will the Vikings re-sign most of their free agents? We don’t know that yet. But we do know which Vikings players are scheduled to become free agents.
Below is a list of the Vikings restricted free agents (RFAs) and unrestricted free agents (UFAs). Also, click here to check out the vikings.com 2013 Free Agent Glossary.
Restricted Free Agents
CB AJ Jefferson
Unrestricted Free Agents
WR Devin Aromashodu
OL Joe Berger
LB Jasper Brinkley
FB Jerome Felton
LB Erin Henderson
RT Phil Loadholt
LB Marvin Mitchell
S Jamarca Sanford
OL Geoff Schwartz
WR Jerome Simpson
Tags: 2013 Free Agency, A.J. Jefferson, Devin Aromashodu, Erin Henderson, Geoff Schwartz, Jamarca Sanford, Jasper Brinkley, Jerome Felton, Jerome Simpson, Joe Berger, Marvin Mitchell, Phil Loadholt
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 38 Comments »
The NFL has added a new wrinkle to free agency this year, and it’s a wrinkle that will further enhance the fans’ enjoyment of the League and serve as an accelerant to the commencement of a new League Year. The new wrinkle is termed by the NFL as a “three-day negotiating period for unrestricted free agents (UFAs) and it will provide football fans with plenty of fodder over the upcoming weekend as the new League Year quickly approaches.
Previously, teams were prohibited from entering negotiations with soon-to-be UFAs until the beginning of the new League Year. Now, however, the NFL has instituted this three-day negotiating period, which allows teams to contact the certified agent(s) for players set to hit free agency. Essentially, this three-day window will allow players scheduled to hit free agency a sneak peek at their market value before deciding whether or not to re-sign with their current team prior to the start of free agency. Conversely, it will allow teams to gauge the market of players not on their team to see if the price tag of those players is worth a potential upgrade over a player currently on their team.
Officially, the new League Year begins on March 12, but for all intents and purposes business opens three days before that because of the new three-day negotiating period. This three-day negotiating period begins at Thursday, March 8 at 11:00 p.m. CT and concludes on Tuesday, March 12 at 2:59 p.m. CT. While negotiations may commence during this period, a prospective UFA cannot visit a team (other than the player’s current team) and a team other than a player’s current team cannot directly contact a prospective UFA. If a player is self-represented, clubs are prohibited from discussions with the player during the negotiating period.
The three-day negotiating period applies only to potential UFAs; it does not apply to players who are potential Exclusive Rights Players or Restricted Free Agents (RFAs), or to players who have been designated as Franchise Players or Transition Players.
Tags: 2013 Free Agency
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 597 Comments »
Have you ever picked up a newspaper or turned on the NFL Network only to wish you had a National Football League Free Agency Glossary? All the talk about unrestricted and restricted, or franchise tag and right of first refusal, it’s enough to make your head spin.
Ever wonder what the “CBA” is or how they determine the salary cap? Well, scratch your head no more because vikings.com, with the help of Vikings Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski, has all the definitions to important free agency terms.
And the timing couldn’t be better. Free agency begins on March 12 and the two-week designation period for teams to place the franchise tag on players just concluded on Monday.
Our thanks to Rob for helping with the tricky language. NFL front office executives such as Rob deal with these issues on a daily basis and they know these rules like the back of their hand. Rob is one of the most-respected at his position in the NFL, and the Vikings are fortunate to have him in a leadership position.
Here are a few examples of terms we’ve defined in the Free Agency Glossary…
Accrued Season: Any playing season for which a player received credit with respect to his qualifications for Unrestricted Free Agency or Restricted Free Agency.
Collective Bargaining Agreement or CBA: A fully binding agreement that governs all business (wages, hours, working conditions, etc.) that takes place between the National Football League Management Council (essentially, the NFL) and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA – essentially, the players).
Restricted Free Agent: A Veteran who has three Accrued Seasons and who completes performance of his Player Contract, but who is still subject to a Right of First Refusal and/or Draft Choice Compensation in favor of his prior club.
Check out the glossary by clicking here.
Tags: 2013 Free Agency
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 46 Comments »