The Vikings were a different team in 2010 on the scoreboard, but, in the locker room, with the exception of Sidney Rice (admittedly a big exception in hindsight) the Vikings of 2010 were essentially intact from the 2009 Vikings that went to the NFC Championship Game. They lost only two vital free agents – running back Chester Taylor and offensive lineman Artis Hicks. Neither were full-time starters, which is why both fled via free agency.
The Vikings missed Taylor’s influence on third downs and, given the injuries they suffered on the offensive line, they also missed Hicks’ versatility to fill in at four of the five line positions. They were not irreplaceable in the big picture of things, but they were important cogs to the operation of the big machine.
On Friday, the Vikings were awarded two compensatory draft picks for losing Taylor and Hicks (insert “American Idol” Taylor Hicks reference here). The team got two of the 32 compensatory picks awarded – one in the sixth round (pick No. 200 and the eighth of the 32 compensatory picks – presumably for losing Taylor) and another in the seventh round (pick No. 235 and the 14th of the 32 picks – presumably for Hicks).
Three teams – New Orleans, Oakland and Seattle – got a compensatory pick even though they didn’t suffer a net loss of free agents that factor into the complex formula used to rank net gain and loss.
Almost all of the picks come in the seventh round, but there were some higher picks made available. Carolina was awarded the last pick of the third round – which could prove pivotal since the second day of the draft will be two rounds and that pick (No. 97 overall) becomes the last pick of the day and perhaps very coveted. Tennessee and Green Bay were awarded picks at the end of the fourth round and Baltimore got two consecutive picks at the end of the fifth round.
For clarification, here is what earned the Panthers, Titans, Packers and Ravens such premium picks: Carolina lost Julius Peppers (and, technically, A.J. Feeley) and didn’t sign anyone that qualified under the formula. Tennessee lost Kyle Vanden Bosch and Alge Crumpler and signed Jason Babin. The Packers signed nobody and lost Aaron Kampman. Baltimore signed nobody and lost Justin Bannan and Dwan Edwards – one can argue that those two were each worth fifth-round picks.
The Vikings received one of the six sixth-round picks dispensed and one of the 21 seventh-round picks added to the draft pool.
Thanks to quirks in the formula, 11 picks were added to the end of the seventh round allotment to account for 32 compensatory picks – one for each team in the NFL. However, the picks are being divided among 23 teams, with nine receiving no picks – Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and St. Louis from the NFC and New York, New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Jacksonville from the AFC.
Carolina was the big winner, receiving three picks, while the Vikings were one of seven teams to receive two picks – along with Tennessee, Baltimore, San Diego, Philadelphia, San Diego and the New York Giants. Fifteen teams got one pick, including 11 teams whose picks come in the last 14 picks of the seventh round.
With free agency on hold, any additional picks coming the Vikings’ way have to be viewed as a positive. More than ever, draft picks are currency in the NFL and give the Vikings have more chips at table to play with on draft weekend (even though compensatory picks can’t be traded, they will feel more free with their moveable selections). Considering that Taylor and Hicks weren’t resigned by the choice of the team, getting a pair of picks as compensation, especially before the seventh-round glut gets too deep, the Vikings should consider themselves fortunate the Bears and Redskins paid what they did for them.
One note from the compensatory picks that you haven’t heard reported yet is how the end of the CBA affected the teams involved. The four teams that played in the conference championship games were hamstrung in the uncapped 2010 season from signing free agents until they lost players and then could only match the contracts of those lost. The Vikings didn’t sign anyone that qualified and got two picks. Of the other three teams, the Jets and Steelers got no compensatory picks and the Saints got a token seventh-rounder for losing Scott Fujita and signing journeyman Jimmy Wilkerson.
The Vikings announced Friday that football coach Rick Larson of Richfield, Minn., has been selected to represent Minnesota at the 2011 NFL/USA Football Youth Summit July 20-21 in Canton, Ohio. USA Youth Football is the official youth development partner of the NFL and the NFL Players Association, which both endorse and provide funding for the program. The purpose of the summit is to get high school coaches from throughout the country to share common concerns and share the best practices for improving the youth football community. While the NFL and the NFLPA is currently at odds, the programs that both foster to improve the quality and safety of youth football continues to go on as planned.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.