Asante Samuel (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
The Vikings have an obvious need at cornerback, and if the Vikings are looking to compete in 2012, there is a trade possibility worth investigating. To date, however, the Vikings don’t appear interested in making it happen.
Each year when a team enters the draft, it has several items on a checklist that need to be addressed. Most of them involve positions – players to be determined on the fly.
When an investment is made at one position, it comes at the expense of others. If a team takes a quarterback in the first round, he had better be ready to play. Christian Ponder found that out last year. The buzz around the Vikings as the draft approaches is that they may consider trading down because they have several needs and could use the extra picks. However, there would seem to be one scenario that could help take a significant need off the table.
For the last year, the Philadelphia Eagles have been looking to off-load cornerback Asante Samuel. After signing Nnamdi Asomugha to a gigantic contract last year, Samuel became an overpriced No. 2 corner. The asking price has dropped considerably since then.
It would seem like a win-win-win situation – for the Vikings, for the Eagles and for Samuel. The Vikings have currency – they hold the third pick in the fourth round at the beginning of the draft’s final day. The fourth round is typically when players with second-round grades but first-degree baggage come off the board – at that point, reward outweighs risk. Better yet, the Eagles might be willing to accept even less for Samuel.
The knock on Samuel in Philly is that the look of their defense is press coverage and bumping chests down the field for the cornerbacks. It is deemed that Samuel is more ideally suited at this point in his career to play in a Tampa-2 defense. Who runs that? Hmmm. The Vikings do.
But, do the Vikings want to take on his contract? They have the cap space, but he signed a six-year deal worth almost $60 million. The heavy lifting has already been done ($32 million guaranteed over the first three years), although it still has a hefty hook to it – an $8.4 million cap number in 2012. However, Samuel has made it clear that he would be willing to renegotiate downward to a more team-friendly deal.
In Philadelphia, Samuel is a No. 2 corner miscast in his current defense. With the Vikings, he could be the No. 1 CB in a defense designed to play to his strengths. For a fourth-round pick (which seems to be the going rate these days for spendy veterans), it would serve a dual purpose for the Vikings. It would give them a veteran corner with a fire under him that has Pro Bowl talent and it would take one of the Vikings red letter draft needs off the board.
Given the pass-happy nature of the NFL, it’s likely Samuel will be on another team by the time the 2012 season starts. Given the built-in relationship Leslie Frazier has with Andy Reid – who calls all the shots when it comes to Eagles player personnel – the Vikings have access to the red phone under that only beeps at a time of emergency.
With the uncertainty the Vikings have at so many positions, being able to get one fire put out without sacrificing a pick on the first two days of the draft could be a boon to the reshaping of the Vikings roster. It would give the team flexibility to move Antoine Winfield to his ideal position as the slot nickel corner and give the Vikings a player who could go face up with Megatron, Brandon Marshall and Greg Jennings and take away his section of the Cover-2 field consistently.
At this point, the Vikings don’t appear to be interested, likely because of the salary and their desire to stay away from acquiring older veterans – Samuel is 31 – for a rebuilding roster. But the Vikings are a team in need, the Eagles are a willing seller with a product in Samuel that the Vikings could sorely use. One has to wonder, where’s the down side?
On Sunday night, FOX pre-empted its cartoon lineup to present the network’s 25th anniversary special. As part of the two-hour extravaganza, it devoted a segment to the significant moments in the history of the network’s sports coverage. The only moment shown that involved the Vikings (sort of) was the shot of the Metrodome roof collapse.
Free-agent receiver Jerome Simpson left town without a contract, but there appears to be mutual interest from the Vikings and Simpson. Whether the team feels like signing him before the draft is up to debate, but it would seem logical that the war room will be going underground Tuesday or Wednesday, so, if a deal is going to get done, it might have to wait until after the draft.
Gov. Mark Dayton appeared on a Twin Cities local Sunday morning political news talk show, along with Vikings Vice President of Stadium Development Lester Bagley and House Speaker Kurt Zellers to discuss the current stadium proposal. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn a week from today and nobody was willing to say that the stadium has better than a 50/50 chance of passing both chambers of the state house by the time the gavel drops on the regular 2012 session.
An interesting story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer took a look at the number of Pro Bowl players a team has drafted over the last decade. Not surprisingly, the New England Patriots led the way with 15, followed by Baltimore (13), Philadelphia (11), Indianapolis (10) and San Francisco (10). In that 10-year span (2002-11), the Vikings have drafted just five players that have gone to the Pro Bowl – only Detroit (four) and Cleveland (two) have drafted fewer.
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.