Seven topics for the Vikings offseason

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER and MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: January 9, 2013 - 6:10 AM
The Vikings, after a somewhat surprising 10-6 regular season and a playoff berth, now look ahead to the offseason. Here are seven topics to keep your eye on:

PERCY HARVIN

Harvin hasn't spoken publicly since November, before he was moved to injured reserve because of a sprained left ankle. He then quickly vanished from Winter Park. So it's hard to know exactly what the receiver is thinking about his future in Minnesota. And despite coach Leslie Frazier's assertions Tuesday that Harvin is co-existing peacefully within the team, there are still few details on what caused the receiver to angrily request a trade last June. The Vikings also have been vague explaining the full story behind the decision to end Harvin's season Dec. 5 -- with four regular-season games left and no medical information indicating his ankle injury would require surgery. To be clear, Harvin is not considered a divisive force by teammates. He's just a moody guy whom the Vikings have learned to give space to when needed. Now the receiver, the coaching staff and the front office must try to get on the same page with what they want. Best-case scenario: Harvin is awarded a long-term contract extension and all is hunky-dory. But if a serious disconnect remains, don't be surprised if the Vikings are receptive to trade talks.

Thirty-somethings

Eight players now under contract for next season will be 30 or older, including soon-to-turn 30-year-olds Chad Greenway, Brian Robison and Fred Evans. The two oldest players -- cornerback Antoine Winfield and defensive tackle Kevin Williams -- will be 36 and 33, respectively. Winfield is scheduled to make $7.2 million in Year 15, while Williams is due $8 million in his 11th season. And although the Vikings are in the midst of a youth movement, Frazier wants both graybeards back because of their level of play and their leadership. "The intangible in this is a big deal when you're trying to get the locker room the way you want it," Frazier said. "To have star players with the demeanor and the leadership qualities that they both possess helped our football team in 2012. ... That's something that we're going to talk about when we have our personnel meetings with [General Manager] Rick [Spielman]. ... I want them to remain Minnesota Vikings. They are great, great players and great people as well."

 

DRAFT NEEDS

The Vikings own the No. 23 pick in the first round and should have seven other selections, but are unlikely to pick up any compensatory picks in March. The needs are obvious. A playmaking outside receiver is a must. And if the Vikings don't go the free agency route, here are a few intriguing possibilities in Round 1: Baylor's Terrance Williams, Southern Cal's Robert Woods, Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins and Tennessee's Justin Hunter. The Vikings also will aim to bolster their depth in the linebacking corps, search for additional help at defensive tackle and continue to stockpile quality secondary players.

 

IN-HOUSE FREE AGENTS

The most notable names on the list: fullback Jerome Felton, right tackle Phil Loadholt, middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, safety Jamarca Sanford, outside linebacker Erin Henderson and receiver Jerome Simpson. Felton, a surprise Pro Bowler this season, has made it clear he doesn't want to test the open market, 100 percent happy here and wants to stick around. The Vikings should get something done there before March. Loadholt is the next most likely player to be locked up before free agency begins. Sanford is also a favorite among teammates and coaches. The other three might be allowed to at least hit the market in March. Other unrestricted free agents are receiver Devin Aromashodu, linebacker Marvin Mitchell, and offensive linemen Joe Berger and Geoff Schwartz.

QUARTERBACKS

Christian Ponder's role will not change. Period. "He's our starter [for 2013]," Frazier said Tuesday while praising the way Ponder helped the Vikings finish 4-0 to reach 10 wins and the playoffs. Ironically, the arm injury that kept Ponder out of Saturday night's playoff loss at Green Bay could very well cost backup Joe Webb his job. Thrust into an incredibly difficult test on the road, Webb failed miserably. Three days later, Frazier sympathized with Webb but clearly left the door ajar to make changes behind Ponder. "[Webb will] be a guy that will compete for the No. 2 spot again next year, barring something that we may end up doing in our personnel meetings," Frazier said. "But we'll discuss Joe's position and everyone's position in our personnel meetings and then we'll make a decision what's best." It sure sounds like a change is coming behind Ponder.

ADRIAN PETERSON

After facing an endless line of questioning last week about finishing 9 yards shy of breaking the NFL single-season rushing record, Peterson has set a new goal. He plans to obliterate Eric Dickerson's record in 2013, now aiming for -- wait for it -- 2,500 rushing yards. It's an outlandish goal. But only if you're thinking logically without understanding the mental powers of Adrian Peterson. Which is why teammates hear the 2,500-yard target and nod. "I think it's doable," Felton said. At this point, if Peterson said he could fix the budget deficit or repair the ozone, he'd have an undoubting legion of followers. In truth, chasing 1,800 yards next fall might be a more reasonable objective. Most importantly, those questions from 365 days ago on whether Peterson would ever be the same after major knee surgery have been answered.

 

COACHING STAFF

Coaching staffs rarely stay completely intact from year to year, but Frazier said his hope is to keep this group together for 2013. That's understandable considering the seven-win improvement from 2011 to 2012. "Our coaches did a great job," Frazier said. "Barring someone getting a promotion, I'm hoping all our guys are back. They did a terrific job." Meanwhile, Frazier confirmed that two of his assistants -- linebackers coach and special assistant to the head coach Mike Singletary and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer -- will interview for the Bears' vacant head coaching position. Singletary played his Hall of Fame career in Chicago and was San Francisco's head coach from the final nine games of 2008 to the 15th game in 2010. Priefer, whose NFL coaching career began in 2002 in Jacksonville, coordinated one of the league's best special teams units this season.

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Tennessee 10 4th Qtr 7:45
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 46 2nd Qtr 5:42
Sacramento 42
Oklahoma City 16 1st Qtr 8:39
Golden State 7
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 0 1st Prd 11:16
Los Angeles 0
Edmonton 0 1st Prd 9:23
San Jose 0
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 2nd Half 0:43
Evansville 69
CS-Dominguez 17 2nd Half
Cal State Fullerton 30
Walla Walla 18 2nd Half
Idaho 49
DePaul 28 1st Half 0:18
Oregon State 48
Nevada 17 2nd Half
Pacific 35
Portland State 22 2nd Half
San Francisco 46
CS-Bakersfield 16 1st Half 6:01
Utah State 13
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Santa Clara 70 1st OT
Oregon 70
Cal Poly 59 2nd Half 2:48
New Mexico 75
(10) Louisville 62 2nd Half 1:36
Grand Canyon 51

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