With the 2011 season over and the focus of football fans now moving to free agency and the draft, the Vikings and the 31 other teams are in self-assessment mode. They are looking at the holes in their respective rosters and formulating game plans as to how to be address their deficiencies.
The Vikings are likely to have an ace up their sleeve that to date may have been largely overlooked. In all likelihood, the Vikings are going to get at least one compensatory pick in April's draft and are expecting two in the fourth round.
Few teams were hit as hard in free agency as the Vikings, who lost a pair of big-time starters in wide receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Ray Edwards
. Both signed massive contracts to move on, Rice signing with Seattle and Edwards moving south to Atlanta. The Vikings didn't make a huge splash in free agency, with their biggest signings being receiver Michael Jenkins
and tackle Charlie Johnson
The Vikings have rarely been in the market for high compensatory picks, but they have had success in the fourth round, getting players like Edwards and Brian Robison
there. The formula for determining how many compensatory picks and what round they are awarded is complicated and the league doesn't feel any obligation to let people know exactly what that formula is. It is contingent on playing time and the contracts signed by the previous year's free agents.
Regardless of how the calculations are made, the Vikings are likely going to be in line for a couple of compensatory picks when they are announced next month and, maybe even a premium one – thanks in large part to Rice and Edwards and their respective departures from the purple.
The Vikings have their original picks in the first through fifth rounds. They lost their original sixth-round pick in the Donovan McNabb
trade last year, but picked up a sixth-rounder from Cleveland in the Jayme Mitchell
trade of 2010. The Vikings also gained an additional seventh-rounder in the Randy Moss
trade of 2010.
The annual Arctic Blast fundraising event went on as scheduled with one problem – there was no snow in the Mille Lacs Lake area. A call was made to the Blue Goose Inn Thursday, one of the check-in spots along the route to get a snow cover report and the news wasn't good. The course was modified to have the snowmobiles run on the lake as opposed to around the lake on the one-time snow-packed trails around the ring Mille Lacs Lake. Asked if any snowmobiles could run on the standard Arctic Blast course, the response was simple: "Not unless you're riding a lawn mower."
Dwayne Johnson last week. Johnson, known to many sports fans as "The Rock" of WWE fame, was on the ESPN networks to promote his April 1 match at Wrestlemania and, more importantly his movie Journey 2, which like ESPN, is owned by the Disney Corporation. While doing a live segment on "SportsCenter," Johnson said a curse word (a term for bovine excrement) that created an immediate furor and resulted in the show's anchor to publicly apologize to viewers who may have been offended. The segment was completely excised from the subsequent rebroadcasts of the show.
What does this have to do with the Vikings? Later Thursday, Johnson appeared on "SportsNation," where he did a segment naming 10 NFL players that would be on his "Team Bring It!" – people who have overcome adversity to "bring it" on and off the field. Jared Allen was No. 2 on the list, with The Rock calling Allen a beast. While not a Polynesian like Johnson and fellow "Team Bring It!" selection Haloti Ngata, Allen is "Polynesian on the inside," according to Johnson, and is a credit to the City of Minneapolis. The only player rated higher than Allen was Ray Lewis, a former college teammate of Johnson's at the University of Miami.
Don't look for the Jets to re-sign Plaxico Burress. While in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl, Burress, who will be an unrestricted free agent next month, said he wants to play for the Eagles. So much for gauging what the market will bear. If the Eagles come up with an offer, it sounds like Plax will take it, making his return to Pennsylvania (he started his career with the Steelers) and going head-to-head against the Giants team in which he caught the game-winning touchdown that gave Eli & Co. their first Super Bowl title four years ago.
The Raiders made news Thursday, releasing CB Stanford Routt, 11 months after giving him a five-year, $54.5 million contract. The Vikings have reportedly shown an interest in Routt. He was clearly an Al Davis signing and it would appear the new-look Raiders didn't believe he was worth the $10 million he was due this season. Of course, they ate all the guaranteed money of the contract, which is becoming the new Ray-duh tradition – Just Pay, Baby.
The Packers announced last week that they will be raising ticket prices across the board for season ticket holders. The increase ranges from $3 to $5 per seat. How much difference does that make? Using round figures, a $4 increase for 71,000 seats in the stadium would come out to an increase in ticket-only revenue of $2.84 million next season.
The Giants may be candidates to reunite with pending free agent Visanthe Shiancoe. Tight ends Jake Ballard and Travis Beckham are both expected to start next season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Both of them suffered ACL tears during the Super Bowl win over New England.
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.
The Vikings have said multiple times in the last month that they expect to get two compensatory draft picks, which would bring their total to 10 picks.
The Vikings said multiple times in the last month that they expect to get two compensatory picks.