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Vikings Free Agency: What’s Happened? What’s Next?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 18, 2013 – 5:18 am

Rick Spielman may prefer to and excel at building his team through the draft. But the Vikings GM has illustrated this year that he also views free agency as an important vehicle to improving his roster. We’re not even a week into the New League Year, and the Vikings have already been one of the NFL’s most active teams when it comes to shuffling the roster and making improvements.

Here’s a quick look at what the Vikings have done so far, and what might be next…

Got Jennings? Vikings do
The Vikings finished the 2012 regular season with the 31st-ranked passing offense, so during the offseason you can be sure that adding talented pass-catchers will be atop the priority list. To that end, the Vikings have already taken a huge step forward by signing WR Greg Jennings. After being a thorn in the Vikings side for the past 7 seasons, Jennings will now be a helping hand to Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave and QB Christian Ponder. The signing of Jennings was met with wild excitement from a Vikings fan base that has watched the former Packers pass-catcher torch them for 63 receptions and 10 TDs in 15 games vs. the Purple.

rick-jennings

Loadholt, other UFAs re-signed
Spielman is asked every year what his priority will be in free agency. And every year he responds by saying that re-signing his own free agents is atop his wish list. Early in this year’s free agency, Spielman attacked that wish list. The focal point of that effort was re-signing RT Phil Loadholt, and the Vikings got the job done. Aside from Loadholt, the Vikings were also able to reach agreements with 5 of their other 6 unrestricted free agents (UFAs), including: OL Joe Berger, Pro Bowl FB Jerome Felton, LB Erin Henderson, S Jamarca Sanford and WR Jerome Simpson.

Harvin traded
In what may go down as one of this year’s more notable moves across the NFL, the Vikings traded WR Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks, and for doing so received three draft picks – a 1st-rounder (#25) and 7th-rounder this year, and a 3rd-rounder next year. The trade gives the Vikings 11 selections in this year’s draft, including 6 in the first 4 rounds. If the Vikings use both 1st-rounders next month, it will mark the second consecutive year they’ll net a pair of 1st-round picks in a draft. That’s a good way to improve the talent level on your roster.

Winfield cut
In a move that is a great illustration of the type of difficult decisions NFL franchises have to make each year, the Vikings released CB Antoine Winfield. At first blush it seems like a startling move, but given Winfield’s salary and given some of the team’s other priorities, it was a decision that was in the best interests of the franchise. It may have set the stage for the Loadholt re-signing and/or the Vikings ability to go out and get Jennings to help the passing game. Spielman did say that the team is open to Winfield returning at some point this offseason.

Calling for backup – Cassel signed
On the same day the Vikings made a big splash in signing Jennings, they also secured another QB to add to the mix behind starter Christian Ponder. The Kansas City Chiefs released Matt Cassel, and the Vikings immediately swooped in to pick him up. Cassel is an experienced passer in the NFL (62 starts) who was Tom Brady’s backup in New England when the Patriots went 16-0 and advanced to the Super Bowl in 2007. Also, when asked to play, Cassel has responded. He guided the Patriots to an 11-5 record after Brady went down with a knee injury in Week 1 of the 2008 season and he was also a Pro Bowler as the Chiefs starter in 2010, passing for 27 TDs and authoring a passer rating of 93.0.

Misc.
In other developments, the Vikings tendered restricted free agent (RFA) CB AJ Jefferson, so he is set to return for 2013. WR Michael Jenkins was cut and earlier in February the Vikings signed former CFL standout CB Roderick Williams.

What’s next?
– The only UFA the Vikings weren’t able to re-sign was middle LB Jasper Brinkley, who has subsequently signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. The Vikings could look to free agency to fill that spot, they could wait until the draft to find a middle LB, they could rely on Audie Cole to win that job, or they could enact one or more of those possibilities in combination.
— Looking at the roster right now compared to the roster at this time of the year in 2012, the Vikings are at or above capacity at most spots on the roster. There are two exceptions: offensive tackle and running back. Last year at this time, the Vikings had 6 running backs and right now they have 5. Last year at this time the Vikings had 5 offensive tackles and this year they have 4. Of course the Vikings could wait until the draft to fill the voids in each spot, they could find a free agent on the open market, or they could do both.


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Who’s In, Who’s Out? Vikings Busy On First Day Of League Year

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 13, 2013 – 5:42 am

The first day of the New League Year did not disappoint. It was a hectic day full of signings, reports of signings, cuts, trades and roster shuffling. The Vikings were in on the mix for much of it. Here’s a rundown of what the Vikings accomplished on Tuesday, with another busy day possibly in store for the organization on Wednesday…

– The Percy Harvin trade was finalized. After 4 seasons of receptions, returns and runs for the Vikings, Harvin was shipped to Seattle in exchange for a 1st-round pick and a 7th-round pick in April’s draft plus a 3rd-round pick in the 2013 NFL. That’s a nice haul for the Vikings, who now have 11 selections in this year’s draft and will have a pair of 1st-round picks in back-to-back seasons (Matt Kalil-Harrison Smith in 2012, #23 and #25 overall in 2013).

– Phil Loadholt re-signed with the Vikings and is looking to “finish what we started in Minnesota.” Securing Loadholt allows the Vikings to carry continuity along the offensive line into the 2013 season, as all 5 starters from last year will return in 2013. The average age of the 5 starters is just 25.8 years old.

– While investing in youth by securing three more draft choices and re-signing Loadholt, the Vikings parted (for now) with 15-year veteran CB Antoine Winfield. It was a hard decision, said Vikings GM Rick Spielman, but one the team made with the best interest of the team in mind. Spielman did not rule out a return for Winfield to the roster.

– Spielman was asked about a report that the team and TE John Carlson restructured the contract they agreed to a year ago, but the Vikings GM declined to get into specifics of the restructurings.

– Pro Bowl FB Jerome Felton, LB Erin Henderson, special teams ace and safety Jamarca Sanford, and WR Jerome Simpson all used Twitter to announce that they’ve reached deals to remain with the Vikings. Reports also surfaced on Tuesday that OL Joe Berger re-signed with the Vikings. No official word yet from the club, but this is good news given how much of a priority Spielman and the Vikings front office put on re-signing their own free agents.

– Spielman described the Vikings as being “in good shape” from a salary cap standpoint even after reportedly re-signing 6 of their own free agents, including what figures to be a significant multi-year deal for the road-grading Loadholt. Great work by the Vikings front office.

– Agree with him or disagree (I agree with him), Spielman is steadfast in his opinion of how to best build a roster that can sustain long-term success – through the draft and by retention of core players. Free agency has a place, no question, but it’s a limited place. This quote from Spielman during his press conference on Tuesday sums up the philosophy well: “Well we think we’re going to compete next year, there’s no doubt about that because we were a playoff team last year. By keeping your own and continuing to build through the draft and the success we’ve had the last couple of years with this draft and feel very strong about this draft class coming up, that that’s the approach and philosophy that we believed in and it’s showing that we are having success with that philosophy.”


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Monday Morning Mailbag Extra: Free Agency Primer

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 6, 2013 – 7:54 am

While putting together a few questions and answers for next week’s Monday Morning Mailbag, I came across a good question that required a thorough answer. The answer became complicated enough that I thought it would be too long-winded for the Mailbag. So, I thought we could make a blog entry out of it and let the readers take it from there.

Take a look at the question and my answer. Then be sure to leave your thoughts on the matter by utilizing the comments section below the blog entry.

I know the Vikings new direction is to draft players instead of pick them up from free agency. I agree wholeheartedly with their direction. However, what type of contract deal does Mike Wallace want? What are the chances of the Vikings picking him up? Are there any free agents that you would personally like the Vikings to go after?
— Derek P.
Pearl Harbor, HI

Building the team through the draft as opposed to free agency is not a new direction for the Vikings. This has been GM Rick Spielman’s philosophy during his tenure in Minnesota. It may feel new to some fans because they are starting to see the wisdom in that philosophy given the Vikings recent success in the draft, but it’s nothing new for veteran NFL GMs.

I’m not sure what kind of contract Wallace will demand once free agency opens on Tuesday, but my sense is his camp will be seeking top-end type of money – something in the neighborhood of what Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson are making. Whether that’s what he deserves or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is what the market bears. That’s why free agency can be dangerous, and that’s why teams prefer to use the draft as the primary tool to build their roster. In free agency, you’re not paying players based on their ability to perform. Rather, you’re paying them based on supply and demand. Those are two entirely different propositions.

The Vikings are a run-oriented team that features the NFL’s best running back and one of the League’s top run-blocking offensive lines. As such, it’s fair to wonder whether it makes sense then for the Vikings to invest such a large amount of money in a single receiver. If you’re a team that can run the ball effectively up to 30-35+ times per game, are you also a team that wants to pay a free agent wide receiver upwards of $15 million a season? I’m not saying the answer is yes or no in the Vikings particular case, I’m just suggesting it’s a question every team must ask itself when it comes to drawing up a plan for free agency.

As for free agents I’d like to see the team pursue, I don’t have anyone in particular in mind. Of course it’d be great to add a receiver the caliber of Wallace or Greg Jennings. But to me, the Vikings had a good plan in free agency last season. Spielman and Co. waited for the high-priced free agents to fly off the shelf early in free agency, and then once the second and third wave of free agency came along the Vikings picked up a few. While the additions of tight end John Carlson and Jerome Simpson didn’t work out as planned, the book on both of their Vikings tenures may not be over yet. Also, the signing of fullback Jerome Felton was brilliant. At the time, the Felton signing was an under-the-radar move that didn’t yield much more than a sentence or two buried at the bottom of the lead story. In the end, though, it turned out to be one of the better offseason additions and it resulted in a Pro Bowl berth for Felton following the best season of Adrian Peterson’s career.

Long story longer, the key to free agency is not making the biggest splash or identifying the best players at each position and then pursuing them. The key to free agency is identifying and signing players who fit the scheme and can be obtained with reasonable salaries. That leaves cap space and cash for the best kind of free agent signing – the re-signing of your own free agents whom you know fit with your team, which in the Vikings case could be players such as right tackle Phil Loadholt, safety Jamarca Sanford and even a future free agents such as Everson Griffen.


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Highlights From Spielman’s Media Availability

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 22, 2013 – 7:02 am

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman spent some time in the media center on Thursday at the 2013 Scouting Combine, and in so doing was asked to address a variety of topics. We have his press conference available in on-demand format and we’ve also posted our one-on-one interview with Spielman. In addition, Spielman spent some time with Voice of the Vikings Radio Network Paul Allen during his radio show, which he’s hosting along with Paul Charchian from here in Indianapolis.

But I thought I’d share a few of his quotes that stood out to me during his time in the media center…

Draft is deep, maybe not splashy
The overwhelming majority of people I’ve spoken with here at the Combine are characterizing this year’s draft class as being deep with talent. At the same time, people are acknowledging that there aren’t the splashy types of playmakers in this draft, either. There are no obvious top picks like an Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III from last year. It’s not obvious who the top receiver is, like it was with Justin Blackmon last year.

“From a personnel standpoint and a football standpoint, to me it’s a very deep draft,” Spielman said. “There are a lot of guys who don’t get the recognition, but can make a huge impact on your roster. They’re just not a splash positions.”

This is good news for the Vikings, and bad news for teams who happen to have higher picks.

“I think we’re going to get an excellent football player at 23, if we’re there,” Spielman said. “I think through the first four rounds, to have that extra fourth-round pick this year, will be valuable as well. I think the depth of this draft class…you’re going to get some pretty significant players that can help you win ballgames.”

The other part of the Combine
We’re all here in Indianapolis for the Scouting Combine as all 32 teams continue their evaluations of this year’s draft class. But much more than draft evaluation happens here in Indianapolis during the Combine. This is the time and place where teams and agents get together to discuss the futures of their players.

It all combines for an exciting time, and a period of the year that Spielman enjoys.

“We’ll start meeting with some of our own UFA (unrestricted free agent) agents, and then that process  will continue over the next three or four days,” Spielman said. “I’m anxious to get started on the (Combine) workouts, and we start our formal interviews tonight (Thursday), so it’s an exciting time.”

Spielman said not to expect any big news for the Vikings at this point because he anticipates many players set to be free agents to test their potential market before deciding to sign.

“I don’t know if anything will specifically get done immediately just because a lot of times those deals don’t get done until the eleventh hour,” Spielman explained. “I’m anticipating some of the guys waiting until they can actually start negotiating with other teams in that three-day window (March 9) to get a true gauge of what their value is or what they see as the potential market for that player. So it’ll be a lot of dancing and getting to know each other from that standpoint, and we’ll see how it progresses.”

Are you a DE or an OLB?
One of the trickiest player evaluations to make centers around defenders who fit a hybrid DE/OLB mold. A current NFL player who fit this profile is Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware. He may look more like a DE, but in Dallas’ old 3-4 scheme (they’ve switched to a 4-3 this offseason) he actually played standing up as an outside LB would.

“The biggest thing I think between the 3-4 and the 4-3 teams are those hybrid outside linebackers,” Spielman said. “Are they designated pass rushers? Are they big enough to hold up and play as a right or left defensive end in a 4-3 scheme? Can they potentially be strong-side linebackers for you? Can they play from a stacked position? There are players who are very good athletes who are coming out in this draft, and we’ll have a lot of discussions on those hybrid types. Can they fit what we do?”

Greg Childs update
Spielman was asked if he thought Adrian Peterson’s ability and determination to comeback from his knee injury would serve as inspiration for Greg Childs as he tries to come back from a knee injury as well. While Spielman did acknowledge that Childs could learn a lot from Peterson’s mindset, he also noted that Childs is determined in his own right to make it back to the field.

“Greg is a very driven individual and wants to do well and show people he can be good,” Spielman said. “He’s attacked his rehab that way. He’s one of those guys that fit our profile – guys that love ball, have passion for the game. He’s shown that so far through his rehab.”


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Combine Memories: Blair Walsh

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 21, 2013 – 11:50 am

No, we haven’t yet seen a blistering-fast 40-yard dash time from a cornerback or receiver. We haven’t witnessed a defensive lineman or offensive lineman put up a herculean effort in the bench press. And no quarterbacks or middle linebackers have yet to craft a perfect Wonderlic score. But it’s only because  they haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet.

Before much of that can occur, it’ll be the place kickers who take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for their on-field work. That will take place on Friday. While it may not be as interesting to pay attention to the on-field performances of the place kickers, it’s still an important part of the Combine process. Look no further than your very own Vikings for an illustration of that point. It was after an impressive Combine showing and then a pre-draft visit from Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer that put Blair Walsh on the Vikings map a year ago.

“Tremendous kickoff leg,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman quickly said when asked to reflect on Walsh’s Combine performance last year. “And then Mike Priefer seeing some technical flaws that he had and then when we went down and worked him out in Athens (GA), how quickly he adapted to some of the stuff that Mike adjusted with him.”

The Vikings were rewarded for doing their due diligence on a kicker before, during and after the Combine. Eventually the Vikings tabbed Walsh with a 6th-round choice and he went on to have a Pro Bowl rookie season, converting 35 of 38 FG tries and hitting 10 of 10 attempts from 50+ yards along the way. He also set a team record for touchbacks and he finished the regular season with 141 points, the second-highest scoring season in team history.


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What To Watch For: Thursday Combine Action

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 21, 2013 – 8:38 am

The 2013 Scouting Combine officially began on Wednesday, but for practical purposes the action really begins today (Thursday). Here’s a quick rundown of a few things to watch for today at the Combine…

Players
– Offensive linemen, place kickers, special teams players and tight ends enter Day 2 of the Combine schedule. They will go through the process of Measurements, Medical Examinations, Media Obligations, and Team Interviews.
— Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers are in Day 1 of the Combine schedule. Today they’ll arrive in Indianapolis (if they didn’t do so on Wednesday evening) and go through Registration, Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays, Orientation, and Team Interviews.

Vikings Personnel
– GM Rick Spielman will head to the media center around 10:30 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m. CT). He’ll swing by the KFAN broadcast booth to chat with Voice of the Vikings Radio Network Paul Allen during his radio show. PA will be joined by Charch on Thursday and Friday as they do shows from radio row inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
— Spielman will also have his press conference here at the Combine and will appear at the podium at approximately 12:15 p.m. local time (11:15 a.m. CT).
— I will also join PA and Charch on-air today – once at 9:20ish and then again later in the show.

Combine Coverage
– You won’t see wall-to-wall daily Combine coverage on NFL Network until Saturday most likely, but you will see that type of coverage right here on vikings.com. So be sure to check back with us regularly to catch interviews of players, our coaches and personnel executives, yours truly, PA and Charch, and several other well-known national NFL media members.
— Be sure to follow us on Twitter for even more updates. You can follow the Vikings (@Vikings) and me (@wobby) for those updates.


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Catch Our Coverage Of The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 20, 2013 – 6:15 am

For the 6th consecutive year, the Vikings Entertainment Network (VEN) will have a presence at the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and we encourage you to check out all the different ways we’ll be bringing you the action.

I’ll be handling the writing portion of our coverage as usual, but we’ll also have cameras at the event, so be sure to check out all the cool video coverage provided by our VEN experts.

The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine will be held from February 20 to February 26, and VEN will be in Indianapolis from Wednesday (today) through Monday. But our coverage of the Combine will not end when we leave on Monday – it will continue through the conclusion of the event.

Be sure to follow the Vikings (@VikingsFootball) and me (@wobby) on Twitter for even more coverage of the high-profile event.

A few pieces of content you can expect to catch this week include: Rick Spielman’s press conference on Thursday, Leslie Frazier’s press conference on Friday, on-camera interviews with both Frazier and Spielman, interviews of college players, interviews of local and national media members and potentially other NFL personalities that are typically found roaming near and around the event. Also, Voice of the Vikings Radio Network Paul Allen will host his daily 9-noon (CT) radio show from the Combine on Thursday and Friday, where he’ll be joined by Paul Charchian. When possible, we’ll stream those interviews on the website and perhaps even put them in on-demand form eventually.

All of that is a lot to remember, but don’t worry because you can always visit our convenient NFL Draft Central page to stay up-to-date on the latest coverage. This page is your one-stop shop for the latest interviews, videos, blog entries and stories from the Combine in Indianapolis all the way through the 2013 NFL Draft.

We’re looking forward to another exciting NFL Scouting Combine and our best coverage of the event ever. Be sure to catch it all right here on vikings.com and the vikings.com Blog.


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Vikings Aim To Keep RT Loadholt, OL Continuity

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 11, 2013 – 7:49 am

There’s been much buzz in recent days regarding the Vikings 1st-round draft pick from 2009 – Percy Harvin. While that appears to be a topic that will remain relevant for a time, the Vikings will also face a decision on their 2nd-round pick from the same draft – RT Phil Loadholt.

The 6-8, 343-pound road-grating run blocker and Christian Ponder protector is not under contract for next season and could hit the unrestricted free agent market if he doesn’t agree to a new deal with the Vikings before the launch of the new League year (mid-March). Re-signing Loadholt should be a big priority for the Vikings as they come off a season in which they started the same five offensive linemen for all 16 games, reduced their sacks allowed total from 49 to 32 and tied a team record for rushing yards. Loadholt was a big part – literally and figuratively – of that effort, and he’s a player the Vikings would be fortunate to retain going forward.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, while discussing this topic and many more last week with Voice of the Vikings Radio Network Paul Allen and Friday co-host Paul Charchian, seemed to agree.

“Phil Loadholt is a good football player for us,” Spielman said. “Our offensive line had a lot of wholesale changes up front, getting Matt Kalil, moving Charlie (Johnson) inside to left guard, the emergence of (John) Sullivan, who I think is a Pro Bowl center, the development of Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt. Our objective is to hopefully keep all those guys together for the next three, four, five years.

“Continuity is a huge part of it on the offensive line because those guys have to work as one unit and they have to know each other inside and out. They work together on combination blocks, on picking up stunts and twists when they’re in pass pro passing off. I think continuity is a big key to that. We’d love to keep Phil Loadholt, so we’ll try to do everything we can to keep Phil Loadholt but we also have a lot of guys we’d like to keep.”


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Vikings Named Presenting Sponsor Of 2013 “Honoring Legends-Inspiring Leaders” Awards Event

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 10, 2013 – 9:45 am

The Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation announced today that the Vikings will be the Presenting Sponsor of the 2013 “Honoring Legends-Inspiring Leaders” Awards Event. This prestigious event honors outstanding individuals in Minnesota football, including legendary figures and the state’s top scholar athletes.

“The Vikings are honored to partner with The National Football Foundation on their awards dinner,” said Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman. “We look forward to the event that honors the best in football at all levels in Minnesota and recognizes leadership off the field.”

“We are thrilled to partner with the Minnesota Vikings as our 2013 presenting sponsor,” said Sean Gothier, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation. “This natural alliance will build upon the strong momentum of the Minnesota Chapter and the deep roots of the Minnesota Vikings.”

This year will mark the sixth year of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation’s annual awards event. In previous years, the annual dinner has attracted some of the biggest names in Minnesota football and is considered one of the premier football events in the state. The event will be held at the University of St. Thomas on Sunday, April 28. For more event information please visit www.nffmn.org.

About the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation:
Established and chartered in 2007, the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation has been recognized as one of the fastest growing chapters in the nation.  The mission of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation is to serve Minnesota and the nation by developing leadership, sportsmanship, competitive spirit, and academic excellence in America’s youth through promoting amateur football.  For more information please visit www.nffmn.org.


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Notes And Quotes From Frazier’s End-Of-Season Press Conference

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 8, 2013 – 1:43 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier held his annual end-of-season press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Frazier meets with reporters multiple times per week during the regular season, but Tuesday’s press conference represents the last of these regular meetings of the 2012 season. Frazier will, of course, speak with reporters during the offseason, but this is the last extensive question-and-answer session he’ll have until most likely the Scouting Combine in late February.

Here are several notes and quotes from Frazier’s end-of-season press conference…

Proud of his team
The Vikings fell short of their ultimate team goal – winning the Super Bowl. But they accomplished many other goals throughout the 2012 regular season, including collecting enough wins to earn the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2009. For that, and for other unstated reasons, Frazier said he was proud of this year’s team.

“I’m very, very proud of our football team and what they accomplished this season,” Frazier said. “Our guys worked extremely hard going all the way back to April 23 when they came back into the building to really set a foundation for this 2012 season. Because of their hard work, we were able to secure a playoff berth. The foundation has been set for our team, without question.

“Our core identities showed up. The traits that we talked about throughout the year…being a tough, smart, disciplined football team. It was exemplified through this group of young men.”

Developing a young roster
I didn’t pay much attention to this aspect of the team until Frazier referenced it during his press conference, but 22 of the 53 players currently on the Vikings roster are listed as being in their 1st or 2nd season. It’s impressive that this team played so well so late in the season and qualified for the postseason with so many young players and so many young players at important positions.

Frazier credited his coaching staff for the work they did in developing young players and he also expressed gratitude to his veteran players for their leadership roles as well.

Frazier also said he didn’t anticipate changes to his coaching staff, barring any promotions some of them may receive.

Dome-field advantage is back
Frazier has said many times in the past that he understands how difficult an environment Mall of America Field can be for opposing teams. He mentioned it once again during Tuesday’s press conference, expressing appreciation for the support of Vikings fans and for the noise the crowd creates in the Vikings home stadium.

“I think for any team that comes to Mall of America Field, our goal going into the season, we wanted to make it extremely difficult for anybody to think that they could come here and win. Our guys, they got that done. To go 7-1 at home, with the support we got from our fans, that was a big deal for our success during the season.”

Injury report
Frazier listed DE Jared Allen (shoulder) and P Chris Kluwe (left knee) as players who will likely undergo surgeries for ailments. He also listed LB Tyrone McKenzie (shoulder), RB Adrian Peterson (core muscle), QB Christian Ponder (triceps) and CB Antoine Winfield (hand) as players also dealing with injuries, but he didn’t indicate surgery would be needed for any of those players. Overall, none of the injuries should impact any of those players’ ability to participate minicamps, training camp or the 2013 regular season, according to Frazier.

Ponder is the Vikings starter going forward
Frazier was asked a series of questions about the team’s quarterback situation. He was unequivocal in saying that Ponder would be the team’s starter going into the offseason. He was vaguer about the depth chart after Ponder, saying Joe Webb would compete for the backup job behind Ponder and also mentioning McLeod Bethel-Thompson as someone who was involved in the team’s plans. Beyond that, Frazier wisely pointed out that it’s hard to prognosticate what will happen at that position – or any position – at this point in the offseason.

Futures for Kevin Williams, Antoine Winfield
Kevin Williams and Antoine Winfield have been productive players for the Vikings for many seasons, and both were vital components to the defensive effort in 2012. But both guys are also quite long in the tooth, with Williams having completed his 10th season and Winfield having completed his 14th. As it stands right now, though, it sounds like Frazier would love to have both guys return for the 2013 season.

“The intangible in this is a big deal when you’re trying to get the locker room the way you want it,” Frazier explained. “And both Antoine and Kevin are guys who have achieved a lot in our League, a lot of success. So to have star players with the demeanor and leadership qualities that they both possess, helped our football team in 2012, there’s no question about it.

“Would love to have those guys on our team going forward. That’s something we’re going to talk about when we have our personnel meetings with (General Manager) Rick (Spielman) and our personnel department. Just talk about their fit going forward. But from my vantage point, very appreciative of the leadership they provided this season, what they’ve meant in my time here in Minnesota, and I want them to remain Minnesota Vikings. They are great, great players and great people as well.”


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