Rick Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel, did an in-studio interview with KFAN's Paul Allen on Thursday morning and touched on a number of subjects.
Spielman said the personnel department and coaching staff conducted 93 interviews at the Senior Bowl recently as part of their evaluation process in preparation for the draft. Here are some of the highlights from Spielman's interview.
On whether the team has started building its draft board:
Spielman: Our scouts will be coming in a week from Sunday after the Super Bowl and we’ll go through eight days of draft meetings and that will be our first official meeting on getting that board kind of etched in oatmeal as we like to say. … It will be the first time we start laying out our game plan as we get ready for April.
On the status of negotiations with linebacker Chad Greenway:
Spielman: Chad Greenway is a very important part of our football team. Until we know what the CBA is -- if there are any rule changes, how you can structure deals – we do have 19 unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents up this year. We’re not going to be able to keep everybody. There are guys that we specifically targeted that we want to keep.
Chad Greenway is in the prime of his career and has played very well for us. But it has to fit into the piece of the puzzle and how you fit that contract into potentially having another cap. It’s not going to be an uncapped year. If there is a CBA that is put in place, it’s going to be a cap. Well, what is that cap number? How do you work it out? [Vice president of football operations] Rob Brzezinski is excellent at [knowing] how to figure it out and how to fit it into the cap but still trying to get these deals done. But right now it’s such an unknown. But we are very focused on keeping Chad Greenway with the Minnesota Vikings.
On whether the team will put franchise tag on Greenway or Sidney Rice:
Spielman: Let’s get the CBA taken care of first.
On using the franchise tag to bind unrestricted free agents for one year:
Spielman: Usually the players don’t like the franchise tag. They would rather get the long-term deal. So it’s more from their end of it, they would rather work out the long-term solution than just a one-year franchise tag even though it’s a pretty hefty number depending on the position.
On the Vikings uncertain quarterback situation:
Spielman: You have to decide, do you want to just go ahead and get a rookie if you feel that strongly about a rookie and build your foundation like some of these other teams have done? Or do you continue the process of going out and trying to get an immediate fix? Those are some of the things you have to weigh in on. But it seems like in the long run you’ll hopefully be able to take a player in the draft that you can build your franchise on and that’s going to be the foundation that you can build everything else around.
On the possibility the team drafts two quarterbacks:
Spielman: The one thing I don’t think people have talked about is some of the positive things that Joe Webb did toward the end of the season and some of the things Joe Webb did in that Philadelphia game. You see some things that are pretty unique. So you’re asking yourself if you do draft a quarterback, is Joe Webb your No. 2 quarterback going in or does he come in and compete? Will he continue to progress and utilize all the natural athletic talent that he has because he’s a very interesting prospect too.
So we’re going to have to get X amount of quarterbacks in here to compete. It’s just a matter of which direction we go. And we won’t know that until we’ve been through that total process so you can actually layout the game plan. It doesn’t mean we’re going to draft one with the 12th overall pick. This is a very deep class of rookie quarterbacks. There are some very good senior quarterbacks that are going to go in the second and third round too. You don’t want to take a quarterback if he is not valued at that 12th overall pick.
On his philosophy with the quarterback position:
Spielman: In the past four or five years, we’ve always kind of went with the philosophy of ‘getting a veteran and plugging him in, getting a veteran and plugging him in.’ You see a lot of these successful teams now, the guys that are in the Super Bowl and in the playoffs, all those guys except for [Seattle’s Matt] Hasselbeck, but most of those guys were drafted by those teams. They built that foundation. They have that rock and that foundation so you can build around that foundation.
But you don’t sprinkle holy water on a guy and he’s going to be Peyton Manning his first year. You have to go through that growing process and there are going to be some pains just like with any other rookie when you grow but especially at that position.
On defensive end Everson Griffen, who was arrested twice in three days in Los Angeles this past weekend.
Spielman: We’re well aware of the situation. I know we’re handling all of that internally and will deal with that internally. Sometimes a lot of these young kids that come out will make some poor decisions off the field. Hopefully, we’re going to handle all that internally, Leslie will handle that with the player and we’ll move forward.
On the addition of offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave:
Spielman: I don’t want to get into the Xs and Os from scheme standpoint because our coaches right now are going through that process as they build the system and they understand what our personnel is and how to tailor the system to what we have from a personnel standpoint. … You have to have some kind of system in place when you call this protection, what are you going to call this run, what are you going to call this pass? But then you kind of tailor it to the type of personnel you have. Why would you have a receiver that struggles to run a slant route keep running the slant route? Utilize what he does best. I think that’s what Bill Musgrave is going to bring to the table.
On whether trading for Randy Moss was a mistake:
Spielman: I’ll keep what happened internally. But once you make an organizational decision, you have to go ahead and move on if it is a mistake. I’ll leave it at that. Could it have been handled differently? Sure. But there are a lot of things internally that will never be known publicly. But again, you look at the scenario too, if you’re built or trying to say, ‘OK, we’re all in this year,’ you’re going to do some things that you normally wouldn’t do outside the box to try and go all in this year and that ended up being a mistake.
On the possibility of an 18-game schedule:
Spielman: I know the fans would like that. There’s more meaningful games. I think the biggest thing is if we do go to an 18-game schedule, what has to be considered is do you expand the roster? Do you expand the practice squad? How do you get 53 guys – it’s hard enough getting them through a 16-game schedule. I think it would be great for the NFL, great for the league and great for the fans. But you’re also going to have to make some adjustments to have enough bodies to get you through that length of the season.