The Vikings saw their last game action on New Year's Day, wrapping up a dismal 3-13 season with a 17-13 loss to the Bears.
A lot has happened in the 29 weeks since. With training camp beginning this week, here is a recap of a wild offseason:
After years of making collaborative decisions, the Vikings promoted Rick Spielman to be general manager.
What happened: After five years as the vice president of player personnel, Rick Spielman was bumped up the front office totem pole.
What it means: For the first time since 2006, the Vikings have a true general manager. Spielman now has more control and final say when it comes to assembling the roster. That means he should be held accountable for all personnel moves -- good and bad. Spielman also can test his GM philosophies without constraints or fallback excuses.
The team has offered the defensive coordinator job to Alan Williams. Also, Pagac and Singletary will stay.
What happened: Alan Williams (left) became the new defensive coordinator and Brendan Daly returned to Winter Park as the defensive line coach. Last year's defensive coordinator, Fred Pagac, is now a linebackers coach alongside Mike Singletary.
What it means: With Williams at the controls, the defense will retain a zone-based, Cover 2-type system. After 10 years as a defensive backs coach in Indianapolis, Williams has much to prove as he becomes a coordinator for the first time. Daly, meanwhile, is being asked to use his energetic coaching style to light a fire under the defensive line.
Releasing the veterans now frees up salary cap money for Tuesday's opening of the free-agent market.
What happened: A few days before free agency opened, the Vikings released a trio of veteran starters in guards Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera and cornerback Cedric Griffin.
What it means: In addition to letting that trio go, the Vikings later released kicker Ryan Longwell and made no effort to bring back in-house free agents Visanthe Shiancoe and E.J. Henderson. It was a symbolic turning-of-the-page and an indication that the over-30 crowd is thinning quickly at Winter Park. With the long term in mind, a youth movement is fully underway.
Vikings get coveted USC tackle, use extra picks to nab Notre Dame safety
What happened: In assembling a 10-player draft class, Spielman nabbed a pair of first-round standouts in Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith; both likely will start right away.
What it means: Kalil and Smith will be cornerstones of the youth movement. Kalil seems a ready-made star. And Smith has the combination of athleticism, intelligence and passion that coach Leslie Frazier is after. But the franchise will need most, if not all, of its 2012 picks to make the roster and contribute if the team is to take a significant step forward. Hopes are that cornerback Josh Robinson and safety Robert Blanton, in particular, make fast strides early. Also keep an eye on rookie receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs.
NFL is unlikely to sanction Vikings cornerback, acquitted of domestic abuse.
What happened: Arrested last October and charged with two felony counts of domestic assault, Cook was acquitted at his March trial.
What it means: The Vikings used their top draft pick in 2010 on the big and quick cornerback, then patiently stood behind him as the legal process in his assault case played out. Now it's time for the 25-year-old Cook to reward the Vikings' faith. That means he must not only lock down a starting job, but also prove himself to be trustworthy on the field and off. Having played only 12 games his first two seasons, Cook must transform potential into production.
The former Litchfield, Minn., standout should pair nicely with TE Kyle Rudolph.
What happened: John Carlson signed a free-agent deal worth $25 million over five years but was the only high-profile signing the Vikings made.
What it means: Spielman was conservative in free agency, resisting the temptation to chase quick fixes. Instead, he signed a horde of average players with upside to one-year "prove it" contracts. Most notable on that list: receiver Jerome Simpson, cornerbacks Chris Carr and Zack Bowman and linebacker Marvin Mitchell. The internal admission that the rebuilding process won't happen overnight is a big step, even if it requires patience from an oft-anxious fan base.
Senate's stadium bill OK ended string of long nights, closed-door dealing.
What happened: After years of chaos and frustration, the Vikings finally broke through in their quest to get a new stadium.
What it means: All the political negotiating and backbiting has quieted. All the fear that the Vikings might relocate to San Antonio or Los Angeles is no longer. The Vikings still will play in the old, outdated Metrodome deep into 2014. But the good news is the franchise has committed to Minnesota for another 30 years and soon will showcase a fancy stadium to attract mega-events -- such as the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is at that dangerous part of knee rehab -- feeling good enough to push it too hard.
What happened: After tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee on Christmas Eve, Peterson wasted little time attacking the rehabilitation process.
What it means: On several occasions this offseason, Peterson's recovery was on full display for the media, including one heavily attended session in mid-May in which Peterson wowed onlookers with agility drills, sprints and box jumps. The star running back has persevered throughout with a positive attitude and, to this point, has reached or exceeded all the rehab goals put in front of him. Peterson has not wavered from his vow to be back by opening day. And while the medical staff will take a cautious approach, the organization has yet to rule out a Sept. 9 return and expects Peterson to be a significant contributor throughout 2012.
Star Tribune headline:
The Vikings receiver is entering the fourth year of a five-year, $12.05M deal.
What happened: During an otherwise quiet June minicamp, the Vikings' top receiver publicly expressed his unhappiness but refused to detail the root of his discontent.
What it means: The Vikings will have to tolerate and quell Harvin's enigmatic mood swings. Does that mean getting him more playing time? Does that mean working to negotiate an early extension for a contract that doesn't expire until March 2014? Does that mean Frazier shouldn't publicly call Harvin out for missing time as the coach did in June when Harvin skipped several voluntary organized team activities? Who knows? What's certain is that for all the explosion and excitement Harvin brings, his volatility remains a worry.
The Vikings star, accused of shoving an officer at a Houston club, has a Friday court date.
What happened: Following a skirmish with officers inside a Houston nightclub, Peterson was taken to jail and charged with resisting arrest.
What it means: The off-the-field nonsense never ends. Peterson is the latest addition -- and one of the most surprising -- to the Vikings' troubling arrest log. In April, running back Caleb King was apprehended after allegedly fracturing another man's skull in an attack outside a party. The Vikings quickly released King. Five weeks later, new fullback Jerome Felton was arrested in Eden Prairie and charged with driving while impaired. Five weeks later, Peterson wound up in handcuffs. Since the turn of the century, 27 Vikings have accounted for 39 arrests. No matter how much the organization tries to find high-character guys, too many players continue running afoul of the law.
|Boston - WP: K. Couch||11||FINAL|
|Tampa Bay - LP: C. Reavis||8|
|NY Yankees - LP: M. Tanaka||1||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: T. Milone||3|
|Cincinnati - WP: M. Lorenzen||10||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers||4|
|Oakland - WP: J. Fuller||13||FINAL|
|LA Angels - LP: B. Loconsole||10|
|Aug 8 - vs. Oakland||7 pm||X||10-6|
|Aug 16 - vs. Arizona||7:30 pm||X||30-28|
|Aug 23 - at Kansas City||7 pm||X||30-12|
|Aug 28 - at Tennessee||7 pm||X||19-3|
|2014 regular season|
|Sep 7 - at St. Louis||Noon||X||34-6|
|Sep 14 - vs. New England||Noon||X||30-7|
|Sep 21 - at New Orleans||Noon||X||20-9|
|Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta||3:25 pm||X||41-28|
|Oct 2 - at Green Bay||7:25 pm||X||42-10|
|Oct 12 - vs. Detroit||Noon||X||17-3|
|Oct 19 - at. Buffalo||Noon||X||17-16|
|Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay||Noon||X||19-13 ot|
|Nov 2 - vs. Washington||Noon||X||29-26|
|Nov 9 - Bye|
|Nov 16 - at Chicago||Noon||X||21-13|
|Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay||Noon||X||24-21|
|Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||31-13|
|Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets||Noon||X||30-24 ot|
|Dec 14 - at Detroit||3:25 pm||X||16-14|
|Dec 21 - at Miami||Noon||X||37-35|
|Dec 28 - vs. Chicago||Noon||X||13-9|