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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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 43 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 71
Baylor 71 FINAL
Memphis 47
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53
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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 Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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