Rick Spielman (Kevin Brown/Viking Update)
Rick Spielman addressed a crowd at the Vikings Arctic Blast event and talked about Brett Favre and many more personnel decisions on the horizon for the Vikings. The vice president of player personnel is busy preparing for the draft and free agency in the coming months.
Although he is key member of the Vikings organization, vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman isn’t out front in speaking to the fans very often. Saturday was one of the occasions, as Spielman addressed a packed house at the Blue Goose Inn in Garrison as part of the 15th Annual Arctic Blast Snowmobile Rally, an annual fundraiser for the Vikings Children’s Fund.
As expected, Brett Favre was a hot topic of questioning from the fans and Spielman said the Vikings are putting neither pressure nor a timetable in front of Favre as he mulls his decision whether to return for a 20th NFL season.
“I think you go ahead and let Brett decide what he wants to do,” Spielman said. “I know the organization – from our ownership, from our coaches and, I think, from our fans out there – we would love to have Brett Favre back for another year and see if we can make another run at this.”
Spielman added, however, that the Vikings won’t let Favre’s eventual decision deter from their offseason plans, although it’s hard to believe that if the Vikings aren’t convinced Favre is coming back that they wouldn’t look to a trade for a veteran like Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb or use a high draft pick on quarterback. The Vikings still have Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson (a restricted free agent when the final capped year ends March 5), who were the first two options entering training camp last year. Spielman said the Vikings are doing the same due diligence in their pre-draft and pre-free agency meetings as they have done in previous years, exploring what options are available.
“We are in the process of all our meetings,” Spielman said. “We’ll evaluate any potential trades out there. We’ll look and see if there is anyone who gets cut. We’ll look and see what we have and re-evaluate where we are at with Sage and T-Jack. We’ll also evaluate this draft very closely – if there is a young, talented quarterback out there. I don’t expect we’ll see (Oklahoma’s) Sam Bradford (still on the board). I don’t know about (Notre Dame’s) Jimmy Clausen. We’re going to be looking at (Florida’s Tim) Tebow, (Texas’ Colt) McCoy – all those top quarterbacks – and if any of those guys have the potential to come in and help us, then we will definitely look at that in the draft as well.”
In short, the Favre Watch is still in its early stages and there is no real pressure to get something done now. Will that change in March when free agency begins? Will it change draft weekend in April? Possibly. But for now, the Vikings are likely staking their short-term future on the gut feeling of will Favre be back or won’t he? Guessing right on that question will likely be the key to what direction the Vikings go in the coming months. Guessing wrong could lead to problems that aren’t even on the horizon at this point.
Spielman seemed to shoot down the notion that veteran defensive tackle Pat Williams will retire. Williams said following the loss to New Orleans that the he was 50-50 to return in 2010, but Spielman gave the impression he’ll be back saying, “We are so early in the offseason, but we are anticipating all of our players being back. Pat had injured his elbow toward the end of the season, but played very well in the Dallas game. He played excellent in the New Orleans game. Right now, as far as we know, Pat Williams is going to be back and be a Minnesota Viking next year.”
Spielman also said the Vikings will make a strong push to re-sign their own unrestricted free agents – Chester Taylor, Benny Sapp and Greg Lewis.
In a question about Taylor, Spielman explained how important he is to the team, saying, “Chester Taylor brings so much to this football team. He’s like the unsung hero of the offense. You hear about Sidney Rice and Shank (Visanthe Shiancoe) and Percy Harvin and Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson. But what Chester does for this football team – not only on the field, but off the field – he may be, as we look and evaluate all the free agents out there, one of the top free-agent backs coming out – especially in that role he plays on third down. It’s so valuable for us.”
Spielman joined in the chorus of bad publicity that has surrounded Bryant McKinnie’s lack of caring about the Pro Bowl, saying, “To get an honor to go play in the Pro Bowl is something that is unique and something that should be cherished. It’s a privilege and an honor to go there and play in a game like that. I know from an organizational standpoint that we were disappointed as well as a lot of our fans were how things turned out.”
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.