Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Vikings weigh draft, free-agent options

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 22, 2012 - 10:27 PM

Normally a team like the Vikings will sign 10 or so rookie free agents, but that might not be the case this year, according to Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman.

"The budget now with the new [collective bargaining agreement] is basically you can spend $75,000 in signing bonuses on all your college free agents," he said. "There's never been a cap in the past. Now going forward you get $75,000 towards signing college free agents. How you divvy it up is what you do with it."

That new rule makes the draft even more important because in the past, the Vikings and many other teams have signed free agents who have made it big with the club. Center Mick Tingelhoff, defensive tackle John Randle and safety Robert Griffith are three former free agents who went on to become standouts with the Vikings.

Spielman also pointed out that the CBA limits the money guaranteed to draft choices, especially in the top 10 picks.

You can see that difference between the contracts of the past two top picks in the NFL draft. St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford got a six-year, $78 million contract in 2010; about one year later, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton signed for four years and $22 million.

"A lot more teams are willing to move into that top-10 area because that financial commitment is not as great as it has been in the past," Spielman said.

As for the upcoming NFL draft, the Vikings have lost three starting offensive lineman in the past two years -- Bryant McKinnie last year and Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera were free agents who weren't brought back this year.

Spielman refuses to admit the Vikings will draft USC's Matt Kalil with the third pick in the draft, a player who, according to my sources, is the best offensive tackle to be available since Cleveland drafted Joe Thomas from Wisconsin third overall in the 2007 draft.

Spielman doesn't consider Kalil a sure pick. He puts cornerback Morris Claiborne of LSU and wide receiver Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State in the same class as Kalil, who USC coaches rate as one of the best players to play for the Trojans in years. Spielman says the Vikings will take one of those three players.

Spielman, when talking about Claiborne and Blackmon, said, "In the same breath [with Kalil], you look at the receivers and quarterbacks you're playing in this division week in and week out, and Claiborne has some very unique traits and very unique ball skills, and Blackmon is a very unique receiver."

Spielman believes there potentially could be four or five tackles going in the first round.

"Everybody talks about Riley Reiff from Iowa, you talk about Jonathan Martin at Stanford, talk about Mike Adams at Ohio State, you're talking about another big guy at Georgia that was down at the Senior Bowl, Cordy Glenn, he can play both tackle and guard. There are a lot of potential options out there," Spielman said.

But my good sources tell me none of those other tackles comes close to Kalil in ability. One thing Spielman will admit is that, "We're not going to move up, I can tell you that, from our spot. We'll listen. There's been a couple calls coming in [about trading down], nothing specific that says, 'Hey, we want to do this,' but we also have to keep our options open from that end as well.

"If there's a deal out there that can potentially set your franchise up for the future, and have some of the things that are in place that Washington had to give St. Louis [to trade up to the No. 2 pick], that's something you definitely have to look at as well. This is a pretty deep draft class through those first two rounds and you should be able to get some good players out of those picks."

I'm still betting the Vikings will wind up with Kalil, who will play a key role in protecting quarterback Christian Ponder. Charlie Johnson, who apparently graded out pretty good last year according to Vikings coaches, could then move from left tackle to left guard and the Vikings would be much stronger on that side.

Merila in new role

Former Gophers baseball player Mark Merila is changing positions within the San Diego Padres organization.

Merila had to retire from professional baseball after the 1995 season after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. At one point, he was told he only had months to live.

But Merila is in great health now. He has been with the Padres organization for 17 seasons, including being the team's bullpen catcher for 10 years. He will now become a professional scout, watching American League teams when they play at Target Field, and visit some other minor league teams around the Midwest.

Jottings

• A source close to LSU reported that representatives of the school did meet with Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith in Virginia, where he was going to watch Gophers senior Ralph Sampson III play in the Portsmouth camp -- Sampson later couldn't participate because of an injured knee -- where seniors perform before a number of NBA scouts. Time was spent to see if Smith had any interest in the LSU job. LSU hired former Tigers player and coach Johnny Jones earlier this month after talking to Smith.

• Phil Humber, who threw the 21st perfect game in baseball history Saturday in the White Sox's 4-0 victory over Seattle, came to the Twins in the Johan Santana trade in 2008 and pitched in 13 games for the Twins in 2008 and '09. He had only started two games in his professional baseball career before he was signed off waivers from Oakland by the White Sox in 2011. Last season Humber got a real shot, starting 26 games and going 9-9 while posting a 3.75 ERA in 163 innings.

• Smith, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski paid close attention to the performance of Apple Valley's Tyus Jones as he played with the Howard Pulley team in the Nike EYBL tournament in Eagan this week. Those schools and Ohio State are the leaders in recruiting Jones, a sophomore guard who is ranked with the top high school players in the country.

• Ben Johnson, the former DeLaSalle, Northwestern and Gophers guard whose first job at Texas-Pan American included little pay and $100 for doing the basketball laundry, has left his coaching job at Northern Iowa and now is a top assistant at Nebraska with a salary of $180,000.

• The leading rusher in the Gophers football spring game Saturday was JoJuan Harper, who gained 44 yards. He walked on at Minnesota after attending North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, where he never played football. In high school at Columbia Heights, Harper earned all-North Suburban Conference honors following the 2011 season and was named the Hylanders' MVP following his senior year.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Rick Spielman

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close