Emptying Out The Notebook From Thursday’s Combine Action

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2011 – 7:20 am

We’re all settled into the media center at Lucas Oil Stadium for Day 2 of the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, but before we get rolling too quickly here today let’s empty out the notebook from yesterday’s action.

Specifically, I wanted to share a few more thoughts from Rick Spielman’s meeting with reporters. Here we go…

– Spielman said that he and Vikings VP of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski were schedule to meet with player agents on Thursday afternoon. On-field workouts don’t get rolling until later today, so Spielman and Brzezinski had time to talk business with the agents of players currently on the Vikings roster. NFL teams are prohibited from talking to agents about players from other teams, but there is enough to talk about regarding players on their own teams, especially with the current labor situation complicating matters.

– Speaking of the labor situation, Spielman was asked if reaching a contract extension with RB Adrian Peterson was a priority for the Vikings. Spielman said that the club and Peterson’s representatives would likely wait until a new CBA is reached before they talk turkey on a new contract. Spielman also said that Peterson is a crucial component of the team, indicating that indeed the Vikings will be interested in locking him up to an extension as soon as possible.

– Spielman has led an effort over the last few weeks to get the Vikings prepared not only for the draft at the end of April but also for restricted and unrestricted free agency, which will begin at a date to be determined later. Part of that process is also evaluating the current roster, which is a bit more complex this year because the Vikings have several new coaches on staff. Through it all, though, Spielman said it’s been great working with new head coach Leslie Frazier. With the way the Vikings are structured, communication between Spielman and the head coach is key. Spielman said Frazier has been a clear communicator and is doing a nice job leading the coaching staff in the offseason.

– Every draft has a different identity. Some years the draft is very top heavy, with several elite-level players but not much depth in the later rounds. Some years the draft is stocked with offensive talent but is low on defensive stars. It sounds like this year’s draft is an especially deep one at many positions. This could play into the Vikings hands because Spielman is known for a propensity to trade back in order to accumulate additional picks and collect talented pieces.

This could be a strategy the Vikings employ this year, especially because they hold a relatively high 1st-round pick (#12 overall) that has high trade value and because the Vikings don’t have a 3rd-round pick (Randy Moss trade); Spielman has been vocal in saying he wants to get a 3rd-round pick back somehow.

“We want to have depth everywhere, especially with the roster turnover we’re probably going to have,” Spielman said on Thursday. “And that’s why when you look at the draft and look at the potential of moving out of the 12th pick and accumulating more picks, because I think it’s a really good draft, very deep draft. There are some positions in this draft that are extremely intriguing to say the least and that position (defensive line) is pretty intriguing.”

– Lastly, Spielman was asked about the status of the Vikings offensive line, a unit that endured much scrutiny last season. He spoke very highly of 3 young players in particular, saying RT Phil Loadholt has a lot of promise and C John Sullivan is poised to bounce back in 2011 after a tumultuous and injury-plagued season in 2010. Spielman also had a lot to say about G Chris DeGeare, the team’s 5th-round pick last year. We’ll have more on what Spielman said about DeGeare later this weekend.

Ultimately, Spielman said the Vikings have good, young talent along their offensive line but he also acknowledged the Vikings must continue to add youth and depth to the position.

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More on the Winfield Extension

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 23, 2009 – 9:17 pm

Vikings CB Antoine Winfield was the smallest player on the roster in 2008. And depending on how this year’s roster cuts go, it’s likely he’ll also be the smallest player on the roster in 2009. But anyone who has watched a Vikings game since 2004 knows that although Winfield is the smallest player on the field, he makes one of the largest impacts for the Vikings defense.

It was with that in mind that the Vikings decided to work with Winfield and his agent, Ashanti Webb, on a contract extension that would keep #26 in a Vikings uniform for the duration of his career. However, as the Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad pointed out in a blog entry, there was much more to this particular contract negotiation than meets the eye.

There’s no doubting the value Winfield adds to the Vikings defense. But one must also remember that Winfield is 32 years old, and it’s not very often that you see teams racing through negotiations to extend the contract of a 30+ year old CB. In fact, this particular scenario was so unusual, according to Webb, that the Vikings and Webb really had little to work with in terms of a precedent. Often times in contract negotiations, a team and player representative will reference the contracts of other players in the league who are in similar circumstances.

For this particular negotiation, though, no relevent precedent really existed. Add in the fact that Winfield still had another year left on his existing deal, and you can see why there was a pointed ebb and flow to this negotiation.

“Working with [VP of Football Operations] Rob (Brzezinski) was really good,” Webb said. “It was a tough situation because we had nothing to go by. This was an unprecedented deal. If you look at some veteran players – the Kurt Warners and Alan Fanecas and Ray Lewises – they’ve done deals but they had to play it out (to the end of the contract). Randy Moss and T.O., they had to play it out. But to do it a year early, for a cornerback, we had nothing (to use as a precedent). We had to go back to Ty Law years ago to find a true cornerback deal where the guy is playing well and the team wants to keep him.

“The Vikings wanted to get it done, that was never the issue. And we wanted to get it done. I think it came out to be a good masterpiece for both sides. Everybody got what they wanted. Antoine got the security he was looking for and the Vikings got the player they wanted and I’m very comfortable with the numbers in the deal.”

Although there was an ebb and flow to the negotiations, Winfield said on Thursday that he was confident throughout the process that a new deal would be done.

“I knew eventually a contract would get done, either during the season or when the season ended,” Winfield said. “I was going to end up retiring a Viking. No player wants to go into a final year; there are just too many risks. Especially at my age – being thirty-two – and having to move the family and do all those kinds of things. I’m glad it worked out.

“I really do enjoy playing for this organization. I enjoy my teammates, my coaches, this city, I’m very familiar with it. I’ve been here five years. The respect the Vikings showed; they didn’t have to do this deal. I still had a year on my contract, but they knew I wanted to be here and they wanted me here, so that’s why we got a deal done.”

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