VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData, Arif Hasan of Vikings Territory, Aj Mansour, who hosts Minnesota Vikings Overtime on KFAN, and Joe Oberle a long-time Minnesota based writer. The VikesCentric crew crunches numbers, watches video and isn't shy about saying what's on their minds.

Posts about Vikings roster moves

VikesCentric: The Josh Freeman Era

Posted by: Updated: October 7, 2013 - 2:36 PM

And thus began the Josh Freeman Era. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier cut open a vein on Monday, telling the assembled media that he's through making excuses for Christian Ponder, that Josh Freeman is the team's quarterback of the future, he's been given Ponder's locker and playbook and henceforth Ponder will be referred to as "He Who Must Not Be Named."

Oh, wait. None of that happened.

What Frazier actually said on Monday afternoon was that Ponder is "still our starter if he's healthy," that he "still has a bright future here with our football team" and that "it's hard to say" how Ponder's injured ribs are healing.

This non-committal song-and-dance routine was expected, because this is, after all, the National FOOTBALL League, and in the National FOOTBALL League you don't tip your hand or give away company secrets until you absolutely have to. Sure, most Vikings fans would love to turn on the 6 o'clock news tonight and see video of Frazier helping Ponder pack up his locker and Bill Musgrave waving good-bye as Ponder's SUV pulls out of the parking lot at Winter Park.

But that's not going to happen, because the Vikings (for good reason, usually) don't care what the fans want to see. The organization still considers Ponder an asset. You can question the validity of that assessment, but they're going to try to get whatever they can for Ponder, either now or later. Given that his current trade value might net them a bag of used kicking tees, don't look for a trade any time soon.

Frazier left himself some wiggle room when discussing Ponder's future with the team – that whole "if he's healthy" caveat creates a hole big enough to drive the Maddencruiser through, especially in the secretive world of the National FOOTBALL League. Don't be surprised to learn on Wednesday that Ponder's mysterious rib injury has been deemed life-threatening and ol' No. 7 will be spending the rest of the year on Injured Reserve.

In the meantime, look for Matt Cassel to start on Sunday against Carolina, and maybe even the next week at the Giants if he plays well against the Panthers. But the Josh Freeman Era is going to start sooner than later. They're not spending a couple million to look at Freeman in shorts and shells. He'll get a good, long look in the second half of the season to show what he can do with the best running back in the league, a solid offensive line (that is capable of playing much better than it has) and a head coach who isn't a raving, spittle-flecked lunatic.

So how's it going to play out? Let's take a look at a few potential outcomes:

Scenario A: Freeman plays well the rest of the season, leads the Vikings to the playoffs, signs a long-term contract to be the new franchise quarterback, Ponder is traded to Jacksonville for a seventh-round draft pick (a slight upgrade from the bag of kicking tees, but not much), the heavens rejoice, etc.

Scenario B: Freeman stinks it up, Vikings turn back to Cassel (or even Ponder, if he's not put on the IR) to run out the string, team uses its top-10 first-round pick on best quarterback available, Cassel stays on to start season until said rookie is ready to take over.

Scenario C: Freeman is so-so, leads Vikings to six or seven wins, bolts to the highest bidder next spring, Vikings stuck with best QB available around pick No. 16 and here we go again …

Personally, I could see any one of these scenarios playing out in the next three months. One thing you learn quickly as a Vikings fan is that nothing is surprising. What's your forecast? We'll take your predictions in the comments below.

Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to the Vikings Yearbook, and has covered the Vikings for, Viking Update and the Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @donnelly612.

VikesCentric: Bishop is latest Packer to cross St. Croix

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: July 24, 2013 - 9:15 AM

The NFL doesn't have a true offseason, what with the draft and OTAs and minicamps filling the time between the Super Bowl and the start of training camp. Even in the month-long quiet period, when most players and coaches and personnel types are reacquainting themselves with their families and friends and pets, the Vikings usually seem to make news.

They did so again on Monday, signing former Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop to a one-year contract. Thus Bishop becomes the latest in a long line of former Packers – Greg Jennings, Brett Favre, Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, et al – to cross the St. Croix River and catch on with Green Bay's rival to the west.

The signing is pretty low-risk for the Purple. Bishop, who will turn 29 in a month, spent all of last season on the Packers' IR with a torn hamstring, so when Green Bay decided to release him last week, he didn't have much leverage in contract negotiations. The Vikings, meanwhile, were prepared to go into training camp with Erin Henderson at middle linebacker and an assortment of rookies and undrafted free agent-types battling it out for the weakside spot.

Don't assume, however, that Bishop's presence means Henderson will automatically move back to his starting spot on the weakside. Reports from OTAs and minicamp were that Henderson was impressing in the middle, and Bishop has experience playing outside and inside in the Packers' 3-4 defense. The plan going forward appears to be to let both veterans get reps at both linebacker spots before the coaching staff settles on who will line up next to Chad Greenway and who'll play on the outside.

Given that Bishop racked up 8.0 sacks in his last two seasons with the Packers, don't be surprised if he finds himself on the weakside with a chance to rush the passer, leaving Henderson – who's more familiar with Alan Williams' defense – in the middle to call the signals.

Either way, sit back and enjoy hearing Packers fans whine about the defection of another one of their former favorite sons. That's always fun, no matter the time of year.


Patrick Donnelly is a Senior Editor at SportsData, a contributor to the Vikings Yearbook, and has covered the Vikings for, Viking Update and the Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @donnelly612.

VikesCentric: What they gave up for Patterson

Posted by: Updated: April 26, 2013 - 11:30 AM

The first round of the NFL Draft was a whirlwind on Thursday night. The Vikings got a gift when Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd fell to them at No. 23, and they got a replacement for Antoine Winfield in Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes at No. 25.

But the biggest story of the night was yet to come. The Vikings pulled off a deal with New England, sending four picks (Nos. 52, 83, 102 and 229) to the Patriots for the 29th pick, which they used to select Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

(One quick aside: The Purple needed a quality receiver for a couple of important reasons – to make up for the loss of Percy Harvin, and to give themselves the best chance possible to truly evaluate Christian Ponder this year. At the end of the 2013 season, they absolutely have to know whether Ponder is capable of being their franchise quarterback. Thus far, his rookie year was a wash due to the NFL lockout that robbed him of his first offseason, the presence of Donovan McNabb and late-season injury problems. Last year, it wasn't entirely clear whether Ponder's struggles were self-inflicted or caused by an anemic crop of receivers that became downright putrid when Harvin missed the last two months with an ankle injury. The additions of Greg Jennings and Patterson should remove any excuse for Ponder and allow the coaching staff to assess exactly what they've got in their third-year starter.)

The reaction to the Patterson trade was predictable. Fans gathered at Mall of America Field were beyond thrilled to see the Vikings maneuver back into the first round and grab a big-name player they could instantly envision slicing through opposing defenses in that slick new uniform. The national take was not as kind, in part because "four for one" always sets off alarms, and in part because the national media always swoons in the presence of Bill Belichick.

But what did the Vikings actually give up in that trade? The oft-cited Draft Trade Value Chart popularized by former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson in the early 90s has somewhat fallen out of favor among football insiders, but given that the talking heads on TV are usually about a decade late to the dance, you'll probably see the following breakdown at some point in the discussion:


Value to NE

Value to MIN



















So, pretty much a push, right? Factor in the Vikings' desperate need at wide receiver, and it makes even more sense to spend that draft capital on a potential impact player at that key position in a critical juncture for the franchise, with a likely make-or-break year for Ponder looming.

As for history, what kind of return can the Patriots expect on those picks? Or to put it another way, let's slap some names on those draft picks and see who was taken there in the last five years. Players in bold are considered likely starters heading into this year.

Pick No. 52






Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina


16 games, 68 tackles, 5.5 sacks


Marvin Austin, DL, North Carolina


7 games, 8 tackles, no starts


Jason Worilds, LB, Virginia Tech


42 games, 45 tackles, 10 sacks


David Veikune, DE, Hawaii


14 games, no starts, out of NFL


Quentin Groves, LB, Auburn


on 4th team in 6 years, 29 starts


Pick No. 83






Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers


8 games, 16 rec, 154 yds, 4 TDs


Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy


17 games, 3 rec, 22 yds, 0 TDs


Corey Peters, DT, Kentucky


2-year starter, lost job to injury


Brandon Tate, WR, North Carolina


solid PR/KR, 37 catches, 643 yards


Jeremy Zuttah, G, Rutgers


74 games, 60 starts


Pick No. 102






Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan St.


Solid backup to RGIII


Jordan Cameron, TE, Southern Cal


22 games, 20 rec, 226 yds, 1 TD


Darryl Sharpton, LB, Miami


27 games, 11 starts, 60 tackles


Donald Washington, DB, Ohio St.


32 games, 5 starts, out of NFL


Jeremy Thompson, DE, Wake Forest


15 games, 3 starts, out of NFL


Pick No. 229






Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas St.


564 yds, 4 TDs, filled in for McCoy


Jonathan Nelson, DB, Oklahoma


2 games, out of NFL


Eric Cook, C, New Mexico


6 games, no starts, out of NFL


Manuel Johnson, WR, Oklahoma


2 games, 1 catch, out of NFL


Cary Williams, DB, Washburn


2-year starter in BAL, now in PHI

Of course, the Patriots (like any organization) will argue that they'll do a better job of player evaluation and come up with a few diamonds in the rough, but the tables show that in the last five years, just 35 percent (7 of 20) of the players drafted in with the four picks the Vikings gave up for Patterson went on to become starters. That's not to say the Vikings robbed New England or vise-versa. We just wanted to lay out the facts and let you decide, rather than have one of the TV talking heads tell you who got the better end of the deal.

Patrick Donnelly is a Senior Editor at SportsData, a contributor to the 2012 Vikings Yearbook, and has covered the Vikings for, Viking Update and the Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @donnelly612.

Reviewing a decade of drafts

Posted by: Updated: April 26, 2012 - 12:33 PM

How will we look back on the Vikings' 2012 draft? The Purple could reap a harvest of multiple Pro Bowlers, consistent starters and quality reserves, as they did in 2007 and 2003. They could bring aboard a heap of busts that would make the 2005 draft look decent by comparison. Or they could land somewhere in the middle.

Let's take a look at their last 10 drafts to see how each group of rookies stack up. For the purposes of our discussion, we've sorted the picks into the following categories: 

Pro Bowlers: Actually selected to the Pro Bowl roster, not named as a replacement for an injured player or a Super Bowl participant

Starters: Have started at least eight games in a season, either for the Vikings or another team

Reserves: Made the Vikings' roster but did not start at least half of a season

Never made the roster: They might have played for somebody else, but they never made the Vikings' 53-man team.

And away we go …


Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: Christian Ponder (1), Kyle Rudolph (2)
Reserves: Christian Ballard (4), Brandon Burton (5), DeMarcus Love (6), Mistral Raymond (6), Brandon Fusco (6), D'Aundre Reed (7), Stephen Burton (7)
Never made the roster: Ross Homan (6)


Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: None
Reserves: Chris Cook (2), Toby Gerhart (2), Everson Griffen (4), Chris DeGeare (5), Joe Webb (6), Mickey Shuler (7), Ryan D'Imperio (7)
Never made the roster: Nate Triplett (5)


Pro Bowlers: Percy Harvin (1)
Starters: Phil Loadholt (2), Asher Allen (3), Jamarca Sanford (7)
Reserves: Jasper Brinkley (5)
Never made the roster: None


Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: Tyrell Johnson (2), John Sullivan (6)
Reserves: J.D. Booty (5), Letroy Guion (5), Jaymar Johnson (6)
Never made the roster: None


Pro Bowlers: Adrian Peterson (1), Sidney Rice (2)
Starters: Marcus McCauley (3), Brian Robison (4)
Reserves: Aundrae Allison (5), Rufus Alexander (6)
Never made the roster: Tyler Thigpen (7), Chandler Williams (7)


Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: Chad Greenway (1), Cedric Griffin (2), Ryan Cook (2), Tarvaris Jackson (2), Ray Edwards (4)
Reserves: Greg Blue (5)
Never made the roster: Tyrone Culver (6)


Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: Troy Williamson (1), Erasmus James (1), Marcus Johnson (2)
Reserves: Ciatrick Fason (4), C.J. Mosley (6)
Never made the roster: Dustin Fox (3), Adrian Ward (7)


Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: Kenechi Udeze (1), Darrion Scott (3), Mewelde Moore (4)
Reserves: Dontarrious Thomas (2), Nat Dorsey (4), Rod Davis (5), Jeff Dugan (7)
Never made the roster: Deandre' Eiland (6)


Pro Bowlers: Kevin Williams (1), E.J. Henderson (2)
Starters: Nate Burleson (3), Eddie Johnson (6)
Reserves: Onterrio Smith (4), Mike Nattiel (6), Keenan Howry (7)
Never made the roster: None


Pro Bowlers: Bryant McKinnie (1)
Starters: Brian Williams (4), Nick Rogers (6)
Reserves: Raonall Smith (2), Willie Offord (3)
Never made the roster: Edward Ta'amu (4), Chad Beasley (7)



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