One of the hallmarks of Rick Spielman’s tenure as the man who is large and in charge when it comes to making the decisions on the Vikings roster is his insistence on building the new-look Vikings in his own image.
Brad Childress was a fan of veteran players with a wealth of experience. During Spielman’s tenure over the last year-plus as general manager – the clear focus has been on youth. With the release of Antoine Winfield, the Vikings currently have just four players on the roster over the age of 30 – Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Chris Kluwe and Cullen Loeffler.
So it comes as something of a surprise that the early portion of the Vikings foray into free agency has been to inquire about what kind of contract future Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher and his agent are looking for.
While Jasper Brinkley wasn’t one of the half-dozen unrestricted free-agent Vikings that were re-signed Tuesday on the first day of free agency, it took several by surprise that a veteran who spent his entire career with division rival Chicago would be on the Vikings’ radar. That, however, is the word … out of Chicago. The report comes from the Chicago Tribune, citing a Vikings source.
The Vikings would be far from alone in their inquiries about Urlacher. While the “smart money” remains that Urlacher will return to the Bears, the Cowboys and Cardinals have also expressed an interest. It’s possible that any reported interested the Vikings have in Urlacher is simply to drive up his asking price with the Bears, similar to what happened to Phil Loadholt when it surfaced that the Bears were interested in him before the Vikings came to terms with him on a lucrative contract before free agency officially started.
New Chicago head coach Mark Trestman didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement of bringing back Urlacher, simply referring to him as a “very capable player” – not a great player or a Hall of Fame player, but someone who is “very capable.”
Whether it’s Urlacher’s agent that has the rumor of multiple teams being interested in his client or not, the Vikings have already crushed Packers fans by having Brett Favre ending his career wearing purple and now are scheduled to meet with receiver Greg Jennings, according to ESPN. It would be ironic if Urlacher also ended his career in Minnesota, far-fetched as that seems.
The NFL wasted no time in getting a new countdown clock up on the league’s website. Less than two hours after the clock struck zeroes on the free agency clock, the countdown to the draft clock started inexorably winding down.
Jasper Brinkley has been allowed to leave town without a contact. He has met with the Giants – which have linebacker concerns of their own – Wednesday, but left without a deal. He is now heading to Arizona to meet with the Cardinals brass.
It may have been a good thing for Percy Harvin that he signed his big deal before fellow slot receivers Wes Welker and Danny Amendola did. Both of them signed on Wednesday for approximately, and combined it was about the same amount of money the Seahawks are going to pay Harvin. Rumor has it that Tom Brady, who restructured his contract to create more cap room to fit Welker in under it, isn’t happy about it.
Wednesday was one of the biggest pro day events of the month-long schedule, which included Alabama, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Washington. Today could be just as important, with Cal, Michigan, Oregon and West Virginia holding their Pro Days. Today may have a big impact on the top 10 picks, depending on how West Virginia QB Geno Smith performs under home cookin’ conditions. If he has a big day, he will come off the board before the 10th pick of the draft. If he struggles, all bets are off – making today vital for him. The Vikings hope things go well because they have no intention of using either of their first-round picks on quarterback, so they hope Matt Barkley has a big pro day as well.
Today’s pro days will include more than just Smith. Other projected first-round players that will have their workouts Thursday include Cal WR Keenan Allen (projected as the Vikings pick at No. 23 by VU), as well as CB Dee Milliner, G Chance Warmack, OT D.J. Fluker and RB Eddie Lacy of Alabama, Oregon DE Dion Jordan and West Virginia’s Smith and Tavon Austin. It can be argued that, as far as first-round draft picks are concerned, today could be one of the biggest days in the pro day cavalcade.
The arms race in the NFC West continued Wednesday as Detroit DE Cliff Avril signed a two-year deal for $15 million. Last year when he got franchised, he turned down a three-year $30 million deal with the Lions. It wasn’t the best business decision, but anything that takes a talented player away from an NFC North rival is a good thing for the Vikings.
The Lions also lost right tackle Gosder Cherilus to the Colts, another blow to the Detroit team.
Former Viking Bryant McKinnie started a Twitter furor Wednesday by tweeting that he was heading to Miami. Many in the Twitter universe interpreted that to mean he was heading down for a meeting with the Dolphins. Not the case. McKinnie lives in Miami (and has seen his share of problems when he heads home and leaves football behind). He’s just heading home to wait for offers that have yet to come in. McKinnie has been defiant in saying he isn’t willing to play for a discounted price. That may be a poor strategy.
Word out of Kansas City is that soon-to-be released QB Matt Cassel is being linked to the Vikings. Don’t expect a trade to take place. If the Vikings trade for Cassel, not only do they give up a draft pick that Rick Spielman so covets, the Vikings would assume his enormous contract. While the Vikings may have an interest in Cassel, they won’t get serious until he is released and they can dictate contract terms. Seeing as Kansas City has already traded for Alex Smith and signed Saints backup Chase Daniel as an insurance policy, the trade value for Cassel (and his contract) is a moot point. Once he’s cut, we’ll find out if the Vikings have serious interest in 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.