There has been a lot of talk about the Vikings building for the future and not counting on being a contender this year, but if you ask coach Leslie Frazier, he doesn't believe that to be true.
"Not in our profession. Somebody else will be sitting in this seat if I look to the future," Frazier said. "I have to get our guys ready to have a good season next year. We need to have a good year."
While a lot of Vikings fans are unhappy because the team has signed only one player -- tight end John Carlson -- since the NFL free-agent market opened last week, Frazier said for everyone to be patient, because the club is still looking at signing some more players.
"We still want to find a wide receiver that can really threaten the field vertically," the Vikings coach said. "We also want to improve our secondary along with our linebackers, also.
"We're going to look to do that, we're going to look to upgrade our team. We may do it through free agency, but we're definitely going to do it through the draft, as well. But, yeah, we're still looking at some players in free agency. ... It's not closed, we're still looking."
Frazier believes that in Carlson, the former Seahawks player who signed a five-year, $25 million contract with $11 million guaranteed, the Vikings have found an impact player. "I think adding John Carlson to our football team is going to be a great addition," he said.
Frazier added: "We've got some other players that we're targeting [in free agency], along with this upcoming draft.
"We've got 10 picks in this draft, so we're going to get some good football players that will help our football team."
Young players will help
Frazier says there are some players on the current Vikings roster that he expects a lot out of as well.
Speaking about the offensive line, he said: "Brandon Fusco is going to be a guy who has to come along and play better for us, and we're looking forward to watching him develop. We think John Sullivan is going to be a better football player for us. We need Chris DeGeare to really come on for us. DeMarcus Love, a young man we drafted a year ago, we need those young guys to come along and play well for us." Love and Fusco were selected in last year's draft.
Regarding the defensive backs, he said: "We really need Asher Allen to really step up and play well for us. With our young secondary, Mistral Raymond, we need him to play well for us. We'd like to get Hussain Abdullah back from the concussion. We think we have a chance to draft some secondary help, which we'll have to be able to do.
"Jasper Brinkley [who missed last season] is going to be a big plus for us at linebacker, get him back in the fold, and hopefully we'll be able to sign some of our free agents as well," said Frazier, referring to brothers E.J. and Erin Henderson. "We're still in the process of trying to get some things done. I hope we get one or both of them back."
So stay tuned. According to Frazier, the Vikings will still make some moves.
Asked if he had any interest in the South Carolina men's basketball coaching vacancy, as has been rumored, Gophers coach Tubby Smith said: "I'd be real happy here if we get some things worked out including a basketball building that would help recruiting, but as far as leaving here, I don't have any plans to do that, but I'd never say never."
After winning their NIT opener against La Salle in Philadelphia last week, the Gophers will be a big underdog Monday in the game at Miami (Fla.). The Hurricanes won at Duke, beat Florida State and beat Virginia Tech twice. Both teams played Appalachian State; Miami won by 30, the Gophers by 16.
On a different topic, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler was asked his opinion on the NCAA's recent proposal of paying athletes an additional stipend.
"There is vigorous discussion, I would say, about that," Kaler said. "My view is that if we have a need-based situation where we have a student-athlete who isn't getting his financial needs for suitable living conditions met by an athletic scholarship and a Pell Grant, I'd be willing to consider some additional financial aid on a need-based model. I do not think that across-the-board payment of $2,000 that is not based on need is an appropriate thing to do for our student-athletes."
• Michael Beasley’s contract had to be a big factor in the Timberwolves not trading him by the deadline. Next season is the problem, since his deal calls for $8.2 million if somebody wants to pay that. Otherwise he becomes a free agent. Rest assured, the Wolves aren’t going to pay him the big bucks, but they might be interested in restructuring the forward’s contract.
• John Carlson, the father of the new Vikings tight end of the same name, is still coaching basketball at Litchfield and his team beat Long Prairie-Grey Eagle 74-57 on Friday in St. Cloud to win Section 6 and advance to the Class 2A state tournament.
• One of the reasons the Tennessee Titans signed former Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson is not only that they believe he can still play, but they are confident the presence of Hutchinson on the offensive line will help them sign free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning.
• Defensive back Cedric Griffin, who was released by the Vikings after playing six seasons in Minnesota, has signed a one-year contract with the Washington Redskins.
• Following two Gophers basketball recruits for next season, Wally Ellenson of Rice Lake, Wis., scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds in his final game of the season, a 57-47 loss to Onalaska in a WIAA Division 2 section semifinal March 8. He also ranks 10th in the country among high school high jumpers. Also, Charles Buggs of Hargrave Military Academy scored 15 points in a 87-76 loss in the national prep championship game to Brewster Academy.
• In Lillehammer, Norway, three former Gophers hockey players are the top scorers on their team: R.J. Anderson, Gino Guyer and captain Justin Bostrom. Kevin Wehrs is another ex- Gophers player doing well on the team.