Ryan Tannehill (Troy Taormina/USP)
Depending on where all the quarterbacks left in Peyton Manning’s trail end up, there could be a market for the Vikings’ No. 3 overall draft pick.
It was expected that the ongoing Peyton Manning soap opera (Peyton’s Place seems too easy) was going to end quickly and decisively. He was conducting his 2012 U.S. Tour and wanting to maximize his efforts. Had this happened a couple of weeks earlier, nobody would have complained. Interested teams could have lined up, worked him out, put a truckload of cash and prizes on the table and been done with it.
As a result, the Vikings sitting with the No. 3 pick might turn out to be pretty interesting. While an infatuated Manning continues to look for compliments from fawning team executives from San Francisco, Tennessee and Denver, the rest of the NFL has business to conduct and can’t wait for that scenario to finish. The Manning circle of influence has dropped and those out of the running have been striking back in their own way.
Arizona got the ball rolling by paying Kevin Kolb his $7 million bonus due last Friday – officially taking the Cardinals out of the running. Miami wasn’t given a rose and was sent packing, so the Dolphins turned their attention to Packers backup Matt Flynn. However, the Seahawks had already made a move in his direction and, instead of being reunited with Joe Philbin, Miami’s new head coach and former offensive coordinators with Green Bay, Flynn is headed west to Seattle. He signed a three-year, $26 million deal to compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the Seahawks starting job.
Having to adjust on the fly, the Dolphins had a five-hour meeting with Alex Smith Sunday. Smith, who apparently had a three-year deal on the table to re-sign with the 49ers, is looking at other options. Word out of San Francisco is that if Manning signs with Tennessee, the 49ers will likely make a run at Matt Hasselbeck.
How the landscape settles could impact the Vikings depending on whether Miami lands its QB or not. With the first two draft picks locked and loaded, interest is now turning to Ryan Tannehill. A borderline first-round pick a month ago, the buzz around Tannehill is that he could go as early as No. 4 to Cleveland. What the Vikings may be looking to find is a competition for Tannehill. The parameters would be pretty clear. The only way to assure yourselves of getting him is to get ahead of Cleveland at No. 4.
If, however, the Manning signing merely becomes a changing of positions – Manning to Tennessee, Smith to Miami, Hasselbeck heading to San Francisco and Tim Tebow staying put in Denver – the competition for Tannehill could be all but eliminated. The Vikings need at least one of those teams to come up empty – ideally Miami. Then the fun could really begin.
Until then, we tune into our favorite soap opera again Monday, hoping to get his piece of the puzzle done. So far, things aren’t going according to plan for the domino theory of 2012 free agency.
It appears as through the Vikings will be replacing one former Miami Dolphin with another. Lorenzo Booker, who began his NFL career with the Dolphins, was the No. 3 back in the 2011 Vikings backfield, but he wasn’t tendered an offer as a restricted free agent. Sunday, the team agreed to terms with Lex Hilliard, a Dolphins restricted free agent who wasn’t tendered an offer and became an unrestricted free agent. At 5-11, 240, Hilliard is a bruising blocker the Vikings envision as a potential replacement for Jim Kleinsasser, ostensibly a tight end, but more of a blocking H-back/fullback hybrid.
As of today, we will be seven days into free agency and, to date, the John Carlson signing has been only significant financial commitment the Vikings have made for outside free agents. However, something funny happens when a week goes by in free agency and the deals slow to a crawl. The advantage goes away from players and more to the owners, as most of the big-ticket deals have already been signed and sealed. Look for Phase 2 of free agency to begin in earnest this week as teams look to solidify needs without breaking the bank (Manning excluded).
The Vikings are reportedly planning to meet with safety Oshiomogho Atogwe this week. Atogwe, who was a standout with the Rams, signed a five-year, $26 million deal with the Redskins last year. Despite likely losing fellow safety LaRon Landry to free agency, Washington cut Atogwe a week ago today – keeping in the time-honored Dan Snyder tradition of setting cash ablaze during free agency only to cut ties without getting his money’s worth. Atogwe is also scheduled to meet with the Lions, which could create a little added interest in who offers what to sign him.
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.