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…

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Favre/Lewis San Francisco Game-Winner Up For Award

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 12, 2010 – 5:08 pm

Hopefully everyone reading this blog on a regular basis is enjoying the fact that we, as followers of the NFL with primary concern for the Vikings, are still talking about football games and on-field action.

There are 24 other NFL teams, however, who aren’t playing any more games this season and instead have their primary focus on off-field activities, such as postseason awards.

But even though there are bigger things at stake, such as this weekend’s Divisional Round playoff matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, it’s still fun to point out the awards being handed out to the club and its players/coaches.

Earlier on Tuesday we pointed out that 3 Vikings were named to the Sporting News All-Pro Offensive team. Now a play from earlier in the season is up for another award.

In perhaps the signature moment of the season, QB Brett Favre heaved a 32-yard pass to the back of the endzone that found WR Greg Lewis with just 2 seconds to play in the game. Lewis found a way to catch the ball and tip-toe in the back of the endzone for the score, which gave the Vikings a dramatic and improbable come-from-behind 27-24 victory.

That particular play has been nominated for the 2009 Spring Can’t Miss Play of the Year. There are 4 other plays that have been nominated along with the Favre/Lewis play for the award, none of which were of the “can’t miss” caliber of the one that defeated the 49ers in Week 3 (we’re not biased or anything).

So, click the link in the paragraph before this one and vote for the Favre/Lewis play.

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A Word on 3rd Down

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 29, 2009 – 1:05 pm

In a game with as thin a winning margin as there was in Sunday’s Vikings-49ers contest at the Metrodome, there are likely several factors that, if changed even slightly, could’ve resulted in the opposite outcome occurring.

You can’t help but point to 3rd downs as one factor from last Sunday.

The Vikings did not allow San Francisco to convert one 3rd down in the game, forcing the 49ers to go a crippling 0-11. According to Stats, Inc. (and passed along to me by Jeff Anderson of the Vikings PR department), the Vikings hadn’t held an opponent to zero 3rd down conversions since 12/6/98 against Chicago (they did it twice in 1998 – 11/8 vs. New Orleans was the other time). Even more impressive is that since the 2000 season, NFL teams have held opponents to zero 3rd-down conversions just 30 times.

The Vikings offense, meanwhile, converted 10 of 20 third-down tries against San Francisco, increasing their 3rd down conversion rate for the season to 42.2%, which is 9th best in the league.

Since the Vikings ranked just 19th in 3rd down conversion rate in 2008, I thought a quick analysis of the team’s success in that area was in order.

I can’t tell you how many times, after the amazing Brett Favre-to-Greg Lewis-TD to beat San Francisco, I’ve heard someone say “That’s why the Vikings signed Favre.” And I can’t disagree, that play is certainly an example of the magic and “never out of it” style that Favre brings to his team.

But it seems another area where Favre will help improve the Vikings is on 3rd downs. As stated above, the Vikings are already up to 9th in the NFL on 3rd downs after finishing 19th last year. A big reason behind the improvement is Favre, who has a passer rating of 99.2 and 2 TDs on 3rd down. Fittingly, Favre’s game-winning TD strike to Lewis on Sunday came on a 3rd down.

Going even deeper, and as pointed out to me by my buddy and Vikings PR maven Evan Koch, Favre’s favorite targets on 3rd down have been WR Percy Harvin and RB Chester Taylor, who have 8 third-down receptions a piece. Harvin leads the team in receiving yards with 128, and 84 of those receiving yards (72.7%) have come on 3rd down (so has 1 of his 2 TDs). Also, 88.9% of Taylor’s receiving yards this year have come on 3rd down.

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Wade Released, Lewis Added

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 11:07 am

The Vikings have released WR Bobby Wade and filling his place on the roster will be WR Greg Lewis.

Wade led the Vikings in receptions the past 2 seasons, but a combination of factors, including the addition of Percy Harvin, likely led to his release today. With prior stints in both Chicago and Tennessee, Wade may sign with either franchise after Week 1.

Lewis joins the Vikings after stints with both the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. He joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and spent 6 seasons there. In his time with the Eagles, where he spent 3 years (2003-3005) with Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress while Childress was the offensive coordinator there, Lewis played in 90 games, catching 127 passes for 1,699 yards and 7 TDs.

This past March, Lewis was acquired via trade along with a 2010 7th round draft pick by the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2009 5th-round draft pick.  New England later released him.

Lewis joins a WR group that includes Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin, Jaymar Johnson, Darius Reynaud and Sidney Rice.

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Report: Vikings Release Wade

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 10:42 am

According to a report from Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Vikings have released veteran WR Bobby Wade. The Vikings have not released a statement confirming the release of Wade and cannot confirm the development.

Jensen also asserts that the Vikings will fill Wade’s vacated spot on the roster with WR Greg Lewis, who has spent time with both the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots.

Lewis is a 6-year veteran with 23 starts and 127 receptions for 1,699 yards and 7 TDs.

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