Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.

Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.

Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Chat OT: What are the realistic offseason options at wide receiver?

Posted by: under Vikings, Lions, NFC, Packers, Leslie Frazier, Vikings fans, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin, Vikings draft Updated: November 28, 2012 - 8:52 AM

If you missed my live Vikings chat on Tuesday afternoon, you can check in here and read the back and forth in full. In addition, each week I go overtime, bringing good questions I didn’t get around to answering on the chat here to the Access Vikings blog for discussion.

Here we go …

Question 1: Will the Vikings make a run at a big name free agent wide receiver this offseason?

I’ll answer that question with two questions. Number one: how many “big name” wide receivers do you expect will really be out there? Number two: Do you want Percy Harvin around for a long time to come?

Let’s get the outlandish big-name guys out of the way first. No, Randy Moss isn’t coming back. And no, Victor Cruz, who will be a restricted free agent, won’t be getting out of New York either.

So that takes us to a franchise-tagged big name. New England’s Wes Welker? Not coming here.

Over the next three-and-a-half months, three biggest names that will likely be thrown around often by fans as possible Viking targets might be Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe and Greg Jennings.

Wallace fits the need for a vertical threat, an outside playmaker who can be electric when he’s dialed in. Bowe wants out of Kansas City in the worst way and has a chance to post his fourth career 1,000-yard season with a strong finish. And Jennings’ days in Green Bay are likely over in big part because, well, Aaron Rodgers can get along just fine with the other receivers he has – Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones.

So Jennings will almost certainly hit the open market in March. And he’ll have to convince interested teams that he’s not suddenly injury prone. (A knee sprain limited him late last season and a sports hernia has kept him out of the Packers’ past seven games.)

But the biggest thing Vikings fans have to consider as they weigh the team’s free agent options at receiver is that if there is a strong urge to keep Harvin around for the long haul – and that priority seems to be there – the major need of negotiating Harvin’s contract extension will take precedent.

Locking Harvin into a long-term deal will cost a pretty penny and it’s quite rare that an organization will dish out huge money to two players at the same position, thus restricting them from making a big splash at other positions.

So realistically, if getting an extension done with Harvin is a top priority, the Vikings may either have to look at second-tier free agent receivers or the use draft to bolster that position.

Here are some names …

Free agents who might be worth a realistic look: Donnie Avery and Brandon Gibson.

Receivers who might be worth a look in the first three rounds of the draft in April: Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton, Tennessee’s Justin Hunter, Baylor’s Terrance Williams, Southern Cal’s Robert Woods, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins. (Hunter, Woods and Hopkins are all underclassmen.)

Question 2: When Mistral Raymond returned that fumble for an apparent touchdown Sunday in Chicago, the whistle did not blow. Yet the replay officials overturned the fumble on a replay review, taking away seven points from the Vikings. But in the Thanksgiving day game in Detroit, a similar play took place, but the call was not overturned because the whistle did not blow even though the Houston player's knee was down. Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought if the whistle is not blown, the play is live and the call cannot be overturned. No?

No. Not correct.

The Lions were victimized by a strange technicality. You’re right that the whistle didn’t blow on Justin Forsett’s 81-yard TD run, even though his knee and elbow were both down. But the play was ultimately classified as unreviewable because Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw his challenge flag to request a replay review on a play he can’t request a review for.

This season, by rule, all scoring plays are automatically reviewed upstairs. Unless, of course, an outraged coach throws an unnecessary challenge flag, which the NFL rules inexplicably state aborts the option for review. So Detroit not only couldn’t get a brutal officiating mistake rectified, they were also given a 15-yard penalty for Schwartz’s thrown red flag.

In the Vikings’ case, Raymond’s touchdown was indeed reviewed. And officials ultimately determined Matt Forte’s knee was on the ground by the time he lost control of the football. So, by that ruling, it wasn’t a fumble by and so Raymond’s return was negated.

Confused? You should be. Blame the NFL’s nonsensical rule book for creating so much chaos in that Lions-Texans game.

Question 3: I hear so much about Brandon Fusco being a weak link on the offensive line. But given that Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier seem to be somewhat rational, surely Fusco must do something good. What is it?

When he’s playing with an edge and playing with confidence, Fusco can be a mauler in the run game. He’s got decent quickness and stays on his blocks. But there have been too many times this year when he’s seemed confused and overwhelmed. Remember, this is a guy who has made all of 11 NFL starts after playing his college career at Division II Slippery Rock. So the adjustment to the speed and intensity of this game can be steep.

I asked Frazier about Fusco’s struggles on Monday, a day after Geoff Schwartz got the majority of work at right guard against Chicago.

Here’s what Frazier said of what causes Fusco’s lapses: “It’s more the footwork and sometimes getting top heavy. [He’s] leaning a little bit too much one way or the other. And he’s just losing some of his fundamentals as an offensive guard. There are some things that technically he’ll get off on at times. And then it creates problems for our offense.

“When he’s on, he’s a very good player. But there are moments where he’s just a little bit off from a fundamental standpoint.”

Question 4: My sense is that because the Vikings record is better than most expected it to be at the beginning of the year, I hear praise for Coach Frazier from outside Viking land. However, fans don't seem to share this view and are increasingly upset with Frazier. What are the Frazier backers seeing that I don't? And what are us fans seeing that the others don't?

What the Frazier backers see is exactly what you have already noted. Through 11 games, the Vikings have been better than just about everyone expected. And the coach deserves some credit for that. Yes, there is still a lot of room for improvement with this squad. And even with a 6-5 record, the Vikings have many, many flaws. But Frazier has done a good job of putting this team in position for a rebound season. If they win two of their final five and finish at 8-8, I don’t see how this season could be considered anything less than a step in the right direction.

Frazier has a unique ability to connect with players. He was instrumental in mollifying Percy Harvin over the summer when Harvin’s discontent bubbled to the surface and led to a bizarre trade request. And Frazier has also done a good job of getting this team to focus on the little things each week while also retaining big-picture perspective.

Yes, he has his flaws. He struggles at times with clock management late in halves and late in games. And he may not always override some of Bill Musgrave’s run-pass play calls when it seems he should.

Plus, after such a disastrous loss like this last one in Chicago, it’s fair to question whether Frazier had his team prepared the way he should have going into a game that could have put the Vikings atop the NFC North.

But look at some of the early wins. The beatdown of San Francisco is most notable. The blowout of Tennessee and the two Detroit wins also had plenty of moments that proved the coaching staff’s ability to implement a strong game plan.

Frazier will likely never have universal support from the fan base. But he does have a vision that can be believed in and an ability to push a team forward through struggle.

So as for what disgruntled fans are seeing that the Frazier backers don’t? They see five losses – including four in the past games – and a team that has a bunch of obvious weaknesses. And with that in focus, it’s easy to lose perspective on how bad this team was a year ago and what the realistic turnaround time is.

Take a deep breath. Let some things play out. Remember what 2-9 felt like last year at this time. Things are moving in the right direction.  

Question 5: Erin Henderson had what I thought was his worst game of the year Sunday. Do you feel he will be allowed to fade away into free agency next year?

Question 6: With all the guys who signed one-year deals last offseason, who should the Vikings want back next season?

The disconnect with the Henderson situation is that he views himself as having a much higher value than he really does. We saw that last March when he hit free agency and there weren’t any suitors willing to pay him what he felt he deserved.

The Vikings let the market establish itself, then brought him back for a one-year deal worth $1.45 million. Henderson took the one-year contract with hopes he’d have a big year in 2012 and cash in with a much more lucrative long-term deal. Somewhere. But he’s had an average season to date and will have to come to grips with what his price tag really is.

I’m not saying the Vikings won’t bring him back. After all, that’s a position that has very little depth for this team. And Jasper Brinkley and Marvin Mitchell will also be free agents in March. But there will have to be a reasonable agreement for that to work out.

As far as the other guys brought in on one-year deals, the most notable are: Jerome Simpson, Jerome Felton, Mitchell, Geoff Schwartz and Devin Aromashodu. Felton is the only one of that group who has had anywhere near a significant impact.

I would not be surprised if all the others were left to walk at season’s end.


Detroit 95 FINAL
Washington 99
Atlanta 93 FINAL
Miami 91
Toronto 98 FINAL
New York 103
Memphis 101 FINAL
Minnesota 97
Brooklyn 104 FINAL
Dallas 94
Milwaukee 75 FINAL
Utah 82
San Antonio 101 FINAL
Phoenix 74
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Florida 5
Detroit 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Carolina 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
New Jersey 2 FINAL
Columbus 0
Arizona 1 FINAL
Boston 4
Toronto 0 FINAL
Montreal 4
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 3 FINAL
Colorado 1
St. Louis 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Ottawa 4 FINAL
San Jose 2
Kennesaw St 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 94
Navy 57 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 47
Bucknell 71 FINAL
American Univ 69
NC State 63 FINAL
Boston College 79
East Carolina 71 FINAL
UCF 66
Georgia Tech 63 FINAL
Clemson 70
Lehigh 55 FINAL
Colgate 61
Louisville 81 FINAL
Florida State 59
Missouri 44 FINAL
Georgia 68
Army 64 FINAL
Lafayette 74
Michigan 56 FINAL
Maryland 66
Georgetown 70 FINAL
St Johns 81
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
La Salle 56
Western Carolina 67 FINAL
Citadel 54
Nebraska Omaha 87 FINAL
Maine 56 FINAL
New Hampshire 65
Samford 80 FINAL
Va Military 69
Presbyterian 53 FINAL
Winthrop 80
Utah State 74 FINAL
Air Force 60
Vermont 73 FINAL
Albany 79
Binghamton 76
Indiana State 60 FINAL
Bradley 52
Butler 67 FINAL
DePaul 53
Illinois State 69 FINAL
Evansville 67
Wright State 46 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 61
Fla Gulf Coast 67 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Ole Miss 63 FINAL
LSU 73
North Carolina 73 FINAL
Miami-Florida 64
Wagner 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
Oklahoma 67
Delaware 65 FINAL
Towson 60
Cincinnati 63 FINAL
Tulane 47
Dayton 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Northern Iowa 60 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Drexel 80 FINAL
William & Mary 66
Oakland 63 FINAL
Green Bay 83
Villanova 78 FINAL
Xavier 66
Campbell 65 FINAL
Longwood 70
Sarah Lawrence 55 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 95 FINAL
UAB 100
UNC-Asheville 95 FINAL
Liberty 77
Southern Utah 71 FINAL
North Dakota 65
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Chicago State 65
Appalachian St 66
Bowling Green 62 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 57
Long Island 73 FINAL
Sacred Heart 84
West Virginia 66 FINAL
Baylor 78
Holy Cross 77 FINAL
Boston Univ 70
MD-Eastern Shore 69 FINAL
Delaware State 65
Wofford 62 FINAL
Furman 60
Montana State 73 FINAL
Idaho 80
Hofstra 73 FINAL
James Madison 82
Iowa State 69 FINAL
Kansas State 70
Arkansas 67 FINAL
Kentucky 84
Missouri State 51 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Fordham 74 FINAL
Massachusetts 82
Nicholls 78 FINAL
McNeese State 83
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Mercer 69
Coppin State 88 FINAL
Morgan State 77
San Diego 78 FINAL
Portland 66
Gardner-Webb 62 FINAL
Radford 72
St Francis-PA 70 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Duquesne 75 FINAL
St Bonaventure 92
Creighton 66 FINAL
Seton Hall 67
Oklahoma State 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 63
Alabama 66 FINAL
Vanderbilt 73
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
Virginia 69
Bethune-Cookman 49 FINAL
NC Central 72
St Francis-NY 51 FINAL
Bryant 61
Drake 57 FINAL
Southern Ill 63
High Point 93 FINAL
Char Southern 97
Central Conn St 66 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 73
Eastern Mich 72 FINAL
Western Mich 80
Texas 64 FINAL
Kansas 69
Chattanooga 61 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 58
SE Louisiana 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 74
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
South Dakota 80
Montana 77 FINAL
Eastern Wash 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 64
Old Dominion 70 FINAL
North Texas 57
Arkansas State 60 FINAL
Texas State 70
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Tennessee St 62 FINAL
Belmont 88
Princeton 80 FINAL
Brown 62
Dartmouth 56 FINAL
Cornell 45
Tennessee 49 FINAL
Florida 66
Jacksonville St 55 FINAL
Morehead State 87
San Jose St 51 FINAL
Nevada 62
Florida A&M 65 FINAL
NC A&T 77
Iowa 81 FINAL
Penn State 77
Loyola Marymount 49 FINAL
Pepperdine 65
Miss State 68 FINAL
South Carolina 81
Savannah State 68 FINAL
SC State 57
Miss Valley St 49 FINAL
Jackson State 73
Alcorn State 63 FINAL
Southern U 71
Harvard 80 FINAL
Columbia 70
George Washington 66 FINAL
Davidson 77
Syracuse 54 FINAL
Duke 73
Tenn Tech 67 FINAL
Eastern Ky 70
UNC-Wilmington 55 FINAL
Elon 74
Stony Brook 74 FINAL
Hartford 59
Northwestern 60 FINAL
Illinois 86
Western Ill 64 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 84
Buffalo 71 FINAL
Kent State 65
Incarnate Word 66 FINAL
Lamar 79
Cal State Fullerton 47 FINAL
Long Beach State 70
TX-San Antonio 66 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 76
Fla Atlantic 63 FINAL
Marshall 79
Richmond 63 FINAL
Saint Josephs 57
George Mason 78 FINAL
Saint Louis 50
Austin Peay 65 FINAL
SE Missouri St 89
Ball State 59 FINAL
Toledo 70
Penn 50 FINAL
Yale 55
Milwaukee 82 FINAL
Youngstown St 74
Stetson 71 FINAL
North Florida 86
USC Upstate 65 FINAL
Northern Ky 84
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
Abilene Christian 55 FINAL
New Orleans 75
Murray State 73 FINAL
UT Martin 67
Hampton 68 FINAL
Howard 67
Prairie View 75 FINAL
Alabama A&M 72
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 56
Tulsa 74 FINAL
Memphis 72
Wyoming 57 FINAL
Central Mich 55 FINAL
Northern Ill 73
Denver 57 FINAL
Oral Roberts 60
Charlotte 77 FINAL
Rice 76
Boise State 56 FINAL
San Diego St 46
St Marys-CA 70 FINAL
Santa Clara 71
Texas-El Paso 60 FINAL
Southern Miss 63
New Mexico St 0 Postponed
TX-Pan American 0
Western Ky 77
Stephen F Austin 102 FINAL
Houston Baptist 87
Grambling St 57 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Ga Southern 58 FINAL
Louisiana 68
Auburn 55 FINAL
Texas A&M 80
Ark-Little Rock 73 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 82
Sam Houston St 59 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 61
Arizona 63 FINAL
Utah 57
Northern Ariz 74 FINAL
Northern Colorado 76
UC Davis 66 FINAL
Cal Poly 56
New Mexico 55 FINAL
Fresno State 59
Gonzaga 70
Pacific 55 FINAL
San Francisco 65
Idaho State 57 FINAL
Weber State 61
Sacramento St 73 FINAL
Portland State 60
UC Riverside 76 FINAL
CS-Northridge 83
Washington 55 FINAL
USC 70
CS-Bakersfield 43 FINAL
Seattle 53
UC Irvine 51 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 54
Michigan 60 FINAL
Illinois 72
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
Kennesaw St 75
North Florida 45 FINAL
Stetson 77
Samford 65 FINAL
Mercer 70
Liberty 64 FINAL
Campbell 57
North Texas 48 FINAL
Old Dominion 70
St Francis-NY 62 FINAL
Bryant 52
St Francis-PA 58 FINAL
Robert Morris 73
Long Island 71 FINAL
Sacred Heart 78
Sam Houston St 52 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 60
Kent State 59 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 66
Appalachian St 80
Boston U 62 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Nicholls 73 FINAL
McNeese State 68
Akron 80 FINAL
Buffalo 87
Ball State 50 FINAL
Western Mich 51
MD-Eastern Shore 68 FINAL
Delaware State 61
Northern Ill 52 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 60
Bowling Green 47 FINAL
Ohio U 67
Central Michigan 53 FINAL
Toledo 62
Coppin State 55 FINAL
Morgan State 73
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC Central 33
Central Conn St 77 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 56
Memphis 24 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 87
Georgia Tech 67 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
East Carolina 69 FINAL
Temple 79
Fairfield 72 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Niagara 53 FINAL
Iona 81
Marist 65 FINAL
Rider 56
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Purdue 56
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
USC Upstate 60
East Tenn St 42 FINAL
(18) Chattanooga 64
Furman 70 FINAL
Wofford 53
Longwood 58 FINAL
Charleston Southern 51
UNC-Asheville 87 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 53
Winthrop 60 FINAL
Presbyterian 53
Western Ill 75 FINAL
South Dakota 78
Detroit 78 FINAL
Valparaiso 57
Cleveland State 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 88
Lafayette 41 FINAL
Army 57
Arkansas State 74 FINAL
Texas State 83
South Dakota St 82
Tennessee St 70 FINAL
Belmont 53
Eastern Illinois 55 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Jacksonville St 83 FINAL
Morehead St 78
Kansas State 47 FINAL
TCU 67
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
SMU 46
SE Louisiana 57 FINAL
Central Arkansas 73
Denver 40 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 53
Tulane 52 FINAL
Tulsa 54
IUPU-Ft Wayne 56 FINAL
Oral Roberts 84
Air Force 50 FINAL
Utah State 84
San Diego State 58 FINAL
Boise State 62
Fresno State 60 FINAL
New Mexico 63
Florida A&M 42 FINAL
NC A&T 78
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
BYU 66
South Florida 99 FINAL
UCF 71
Washington 74
(3) Baylor 71 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Tenn Tech 84 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 71
Grand Canyon 56
Seattle 61 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 73
Texas Southern 64 FINAL
Alabama State 52
Santa Clara 71 FINAL
St Marys-CA 74
Wyoming 99
Savannah State 55 FINAL
SC State 52
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Southern U 76
Miss Valley St 54 FINAL
Jackson State 58
Bucknell 55 FINAL
American Univ 65
Radford 63 FINAL
High Point 83
Eastern Washington 59 FINAL
Montana 69
Idaho 62 FINAL
Montana State 71
Weber State 56 FINAL
Idaho State 63
Green Bay 73 FINAL
Youngstown St 27
Oakland 54 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 64
Austin Peay 72 FINAL
SE Missouri St 67
Wagner 65 FINAL
Mount St Marys 68
Portland 72 FINAL
San Diego 80
Nevada 72 FINAL
San Jose St 81
Stephen F Austin 69 FINAL
Houston Baptist 57
Incarnate Word 64 FINAL
Lamar 81
Abilene Christian 50 FINAL
New Orleans 71
Pepperdine 57 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 74
San Francisco 91 FINAL
Pacific 79
Prairie View 81 FINAL
Alabama A&M 71
Hampton 106 FINAL
Howard 57
Chicago State 53 FINAL
Utah Valley U 68
Cal Poly 75 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 84
UC Santa Barbara 57 FINAL
UC Davis 52
Marshall 73 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 83
Portland State 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 123
Western Ky 88 FINAL
FIU 47
Middle Tennessee 57
Georgia Southern 35 FINAL
Louisiana 62
Grambling 59 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 45
Ark-Little Rock 48 FINAL
TX-Arlington 38
Cornell 33 FINAL
Dartmouth 54
Columbia 81 FINAL
Harvard 82
Brown 67 FINAL
(14) Princeton 79
Washington St 68
(24) California 55 FINAL
(7) Oregon State 73
Yale 33 FINAL
Penn 59
Murray State 74 FINAL
UT Martin 87
Loyola-Maryland 50 FINAL
Navy 59
Jacksonville 47 FINAL
(21) Fla Gulf Coast 78
Long Beach St 69 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 62
Rice 59 FINAL
Charlotte 78
Colgate 61 FINAL
Lehigh 60
CS-Northridge 88 FINAL
UC-Riverside 70
Kansas 65 FINAL
Oklahoma 58
Oklahoma St 47 FINAL
Texas Tech 44
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
New Mexico St 80
North Dakota 66 FINAL
Southern Utah 73
Northern Colorado 88 FINAL
Northern Ariz 67


question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters